Out of Office

Group exhibition 06 October –27 October 2023
Tue-Fri, 17:00-20:00 and on request
Opening: 05/10/2023, 19:00
Medienwerkstatt Wien
Neubaugasse 40a, 1070 Vienna

with Beierheimer/Laussegger, Liat Berdugo, Lauren Huret, Michael Mandiberg, Eva & Franco Mattes, Mimi Ọnụọha, Allison Parrish, Mario Santamaría, Pilvi Takala

curated by Enar de Dios Rodríguez & Olena Newkryta (The Golden Pixel Cooperative)

Behind each screen, each piece of digital information, each data exchange, hides a complex assemblage of material and labour, which includes not only mined minerals and electrical networks, but also present and removed workforces. The obfuscated labour sometimes takes the shape of a hand that extracts, or an eye that watches endless sets of images, or an ear that attends the way the fans are roaring. The screen is thus a giant constellation of paid and unpaid labour, and any of its offered clicks is directly tied to geographically dispersed workers. These are workers who are mostly overloaded, underpaid, and highly dependent on their own screens. How can we witness the work that takes place behind the screens? Triggered by this urgent question, The Golden Pixel Cooperative (Olena Newkryta and Simona Obholzer) organised an online symposium in 2022 to which artists and thinkers were invited to respond. Titled Screen Matters - The screen as a place of work, the symposium examined various ways in which workers are being physically, emotionally, and cognitively exhausted by new forms of digital labour. The group exhibition out of office is an attempt at exposing this topic through the presentation of artistic works in a speculative setting—a co-working space replicated by the exhibition display aesthetics.

The show presents a wide variety of artistic approaches by contemporary practitioners that range from video and web-based pieces to the documentation of certain forms of labour performed by both humans and automated machines. The common thread shared by all the artworks is the positionality of the artists themselves, who appear as absent screen workers (creative or otherwise), and whose conscious representation of labour is the main protagonist of each piece. Despite this common denominator, the wide variety of screen work is reflected by the diverse types of workers featured in the exhibition: a micro-worker, a bot developer, programmers of computer-generated text, a creator of personalized digital-data portraits, a patent issuer of digital-related gestures, an organizer of crowdsourced digital images, and media artists. Rather than giving in to the invisibility of labour, in out of office the artists’ absence from their place of work suggests a potential retreat from the whirlwind of clicks, scrolls and screens.

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