Mixed media (47 plates, text on glass, text on wall)
We often understand work in contrast to its direct opposite: holidays. This is where the Estonian artist Sigrid Viir takes her point of departure in the work Souvenirs of the False Vacationer. Visitors are free to choose whichever entrance to the work they prefer. Holiday or leisure? These two words are written above the two different doors. Yet, you arrive in the same room and this makes for total confusion or mix-up. The room is a mix of a home office, workplace, and a holiday resort. A mix now more relevant than ever following the global pandemic where many people did not just work at home but also in holiday homes.
The work comprises forty-seven souvenir plates. Names of research scientists such as ‘David Graeber’ and his concept of ‘bullshit jobs’, or statements such as ‘flexibility is a trap’ are painted on them or around them.
Holidays are not always associated with being completely off work. To some people, they present an opportunity for self-optimisation. In our performance culture, we have been trained to become the ultimate employee who is self-motivating and self-governing. So, when you lounge on the beach, you would do well to read the latest book on creative management. Before you leave, you have perhaps agreed with your family, manager, and/or yourself how often to check your e-mail.
Holiday and leisure time are relatively new phenomena for the majority of the population. Until the twentieth century, holiday was an option reserved for the aristocracy and upper middle class. However, this changed during the 1900s when large population groups were also allowed holidays – in tandem with social development generally and rights that had been fought for and won. When modern man realises himself, it is no longer just a question of the type of job you have but also where you go for your holidays, and what you do in your spare time.
Mixed media (9 framed photos, 2 deck chairs, 3 tables, 2 light boxes)
An environment in subdued colours unfolds before our eyes. Is it a home or an office environment? In the work Office Sweet Home, Sigrid Viir zooms in on the relationship between working life and leisure time. The home resembles a workplace and vice versa. The installation comprises office chairs transformed into sunbeds and in a series of almost surrealistic photos placed on the tables, living room, bedroom, and office merge into an integral whole.
Perhaps the reclining chairs have a central function in the overall statement of the work. They represent the only spot where it is possible, via sleep, to escape the constant demand for access and adaptability. Perhaps the greatest revolt is essentially asserting the right to sleep or taking a rest?
The difficult balance between work and leisure is perhaps still the greatest challenge in the types of job where answering e-mails plays a major role. Increasingly, people are online outside working hours and work from home, in the evening, too.
The work title Office Sweet Home acquired a new meaning during the global pandemic and the advantages and disadvantages of working from home have been discussed ever since. The discussion intensified in 2020 following the first wave of people being sent home to work and although it was often a steep learning curve, many are now able to use digital meeting platforms like never before. This provided new flexibility and many companies have since introduced the working-from-home concept, not just as a possible benefit but as a requirement. The work-life balance has been up for discussion and companies began to see flexible solutions in the number of workstations they had to provide, resulting in smaller domiciles as an economic spinoff. The second corona wave in this country meant that people experienced the implications of social distancing. Many missed meeting people physically.