A short text printed as an unfolding accordion book that, when unopened, resembles a business card. This card was featured on the cover of a booklet produced for the exhibition, A Union of Voices, an exhibition of artist books at Horatio Junior that took place between 13th December 2014 and the 18th January 2015. The text printed in the booklet, “Sites of Desire”, can be read here.
Excitedly, I began to tell her about a book I was reading called The Problem with Work by Kathi Weeks.
When I started this job I just couldn’t seem to remember the office phone number, so I started carrying the general company business card in one side of my oystercard holder, which I nearly always have with me, ready to hand in the pocket of whatever I happen to be wearing. so, I always have the “WORK” card on me. I like its non-specificity, that it simply reads “WORK” in bold, no-frills lettering, a few NON-SUPPOSING lines of contact details on the reverse.
The minimal card assumes simplicity, the definability of WORK within this small rectangle, its number, website and address. With such confident categorization one could imagine that WORK is limited to this place, a destination, a time slot, to pocketed, billable hours. Paired with my travel pass in a slim card wallet, like partnered portraits, WORK has become an integral part of my day-to-day identity. My WORK is equitable with the destination of those with whom I share a crushed commuter train every day. The flexible word WORK both shrouds us and attributes a sense of communality to the cloaked, jacketed and hatted habit of each other’s daily experiences. A banal omnipresence, WORK is the ubiquitous non-narrative of capital.
WORK has become an aspirational given. A lifetime career, success, self-fulfillment and even happiness. Extra-ordinary ambition is as ordinary as it appears to be essential. Personalised as an extension of the self, WORK is allowed to expand exponentially, aspiring to compound excess. While spending the self, WORK is also a ticket to spending, to move, to live. WORK creates a surplus by encouraging self-consumption.
Unlike my unassuming card, WORK doesn’t have a flip side, rather it unfolds. Being a working subject is an identity that pervades all others. Working elsewhere than WORK, even in opposition to WORK, exists always in relation to WORK. These activities (im)materially resemble WORK; are personal, as is WORK; occasionally are or aspire to be waged, just like WORK. Critical modes of production tussle with WORK for time and space, yet refute the decadence and illegitimacy associated with not working. Not WORK and WORK aspire to one another, share in each other’s ethics and social ideals. There are no limitations when WORK is life’s limit. WORK is, as yet, utterly unsurpassed.
She laughed and said that that was the book I was always reading.