Together with Technisches Museum Wien, we have explored new ground, engaging technology and art in dialogue, which materialised in this exhibition. Four artists were invited to produce new art works on the theme of labour, and the resulting works were integrated into Technisches Museum’s permanent exhibition as art interventions, from March 2012 until March 2013. Videos by three other artists complemented the spectrum. From March until July 2013 the exhibition moved to the Museum Arbeitswelt in Steyr, Upper Austria. In 2014, the exhibition goes CEE and is presented in the Tehnički muzej (Technical Museum) in Zagreb.
How is labour changing? When is it a privilege, and when is it a burden? What does it mean when workflows are automated? Is our knowledge-based society and service economy the future of our working life? What does it mean to be flexible and mobile? How do work and unemployment affect the way we perceive ourselves? Work affects everyone and opinions about it are many and diverse. Paid labour is largely considered a social good, providing the opportunity for social recognition, and thereby serves as an important aspect in personal identity. Due to the social relevance of the theme of work, Technisches Museum Wien has established a corresponding focus for the years 2011–2015. Two exhibitions pursue the question of the impacts associated with working and mechanisation processes. The historical-cultural exhibition AT WORK has been open since October 2011. In order to expand the diversity of approaches and impulses, the exhibition AT YOUR SERVICE – ART AND LABOUR presented a series of artistic positions.
AT YOUR SERVICE – ART AND LABOUR sets technology in a dialogue with art. For a museum that rests on a scientific basis, providing room for art is seen as an option for bringing in unfamiliar, outside perspectives, and thereby reactivating the discussions about opportunities and risks of contemporary forms of labour. Rather than being placed in a special exhibition space, art is positioned as an intervention in the Museum’s permanent presentations on the development of steel production, energy extraction, the railways and everyday life. Visitors are confronted with unexpected perspectives. They have the opportunity to pursue those perspectives in a communication game and discuss the issues raised by the artists and the exhibition with other visitors. At the start of the exhibition, the film “Making of” tells about the work on the exhibition and the production of the artworks. Red chairs with covers made from recycled clothing and floor stickers lead the way to the various exhibition areas and link the artistic positions to each other. They are core elements of the guidance system designed by Walking Chair Design Studio. An accompanying digital game invites visitors to solve various tasks to the artworks.
The show involves 7 artists from 7 different countries. Working as an artist requires mobility. All of them left their hometown to work abroad. Pavel Braila from Moldova lives not only in Chisinau but also in Berlin, which is home for the Romanian artist Daniel Knorr, as well as for Haroun Farocki who was born in the Czech Republic. Anna Jermolaewa came from Russia to Vienna and Austrian Ulrike Lienbacher from the village Oberndorf. The Albanian artist Adrian Paci lives and works now in Milan, Italy, and Anne Tallentire moved from Northern Irland to London.
The exhibition is a cooperation between Technisches Museum Wien and ERSTE Foundation. The Foundation appointed two curators: Silvia Eiblmayr, member of the art advisory board of Kontakt. The art collection of Erste Group and ERSTE Foundation,and Christiane Erharter, curator of Programme Culture. Elisabeth Limbeck-Lilienau, Christine Lixl, and Roswitha Muttenthaler from the Technisches Museum Wien were responsible for project management and scientific aspects.