The Danish artist Hannah Toticki has created a brand new work for the exhibition, comprising a large-scale open-plan office functioning as an interactive installation. Visitors to Kunsten are welcome to enter the installation and use it as a workstation. One huge worktable assuming an organic shape, capable of enveloping you totally. Thus, the open-plan office space provides an opportunity, within only few square metres, to work with your own laptop, work out on an integral step device, or take a rest on the integral resting place. A conveyor belt is morphed to a creature with countless hands rhythmically and constantly slapping a keyboard. Generally, the installation forms a surreal landscape where humour and seriousness come together, embraced by modern working life. In Toticki’s workplace, everything is blurred. Whether you work at a conveyor belt or in an office, your closest colleague is a machine.
Essentially, the open-plan office symbolises the constant 24/7 self-optimisation. Even when we believe that we can take a rest, we are disturbed by our digital life where the hand automatically seeks out the screen, swipes, clicks, or likes in a repetitive consecutive movement. Even when we try to squeeze in a power nap, the underlying reason is increased self-optimisation and productivity. Hannah Toticki created the work specifically for the exhibition Work it Out, drawing on her time-honoured interest in working life and the status of work in our society and in life generally. The work derides the open-plan office, its insisting that you rhythmically repeat the same movements in front of a screen and in furnishings that reduce the individual to become part of a great mass and how the aids offered for the benefit of individuals, in the end, also manifest labour-market requirements aimed at each individual person.
When the information society took over from the industrial society, many jobs disappeared from industry and became knowledge-related. The transition from an agricultural to an industrial society also involved substantial changes, but so, too, did the subsequent transition to the information society in whose wake came an ever-increasing digitalisation. Many production jobs were taken over by technology and the framework for the work changed radically. The idea of exploiting labour efficiently has not changed, though, and the rhythmical, repetitive movement from industrialised factory work is now replaced by physically monotonous work behind a screen where the physical load is partly replaced by one of mental challenges.
The open-plan office is financially supported by the foundation BECKETT-Fonden and the Danish Arts Foundation