Nataša Ilić

18 January 2022

On Work And Its Absence

The seminar On work and its absence focuses on the notion of work and its centrality both for left emancipatory project and for capitalist reproduction and ideology. The seminar develops around the first conceptual outline of the international exhibition devoted to the issues of work and labor in contemporary societies, specifically relating them to the notion of unemployment and debates on ‘the right to useful unemployment’ (Ivan Illich), automation of labor and universal basic income. The exhibition will be rooted in the historical and present context of Vienna and expand internationally, will be based on research and documentary and educational material and will include newly developed and older artistic works. The focus of the seminar lies on the processes of translation of theoretical and political insights into the format of contemporary art exhibition and their embeddedness in the specific institutional setting of Kunsthalle Wien and city of Vienna. At the same time the notion of work and its value is taken as a challenge that disrupts standardization and normalization of institutional proceedings.

Required Reading/Listening:

Marie Jahoda, Paul F. Lazarsfeld, Hans Zeisel, Marienthal: The Sociography of an Unemployed Community, 1933 (Introductions and Chapter 1)

David Graeber, On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs, 2013

Sarah Jaffe, Work Won’t Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone, 2021 (Introduction, Chapter 1 and Chapter 6)

Mladen Stilinović, Praise of laziness, 1993

The Nap Ministry, Tricia Hersey on why rest is a radical tool for resisting white supremacy, podcast, 2021

Nataša Ilić is a curator, a member of What, How & for Whom/WHW, a curatorial collective formed in 1999 and based in Zagreb, Vienna and Berlin. Since 2003 WHW collective has been running the program of Gallery Nova, a city-owned gallery in Zagreb. In 2018 WHW launched a new international study program for emerging artists called WHW Akademija, based in Zagreb. Since 2019 part of the collective (Ivet Ćurlin, Nataša Ilić and Sabina Sabolović) works as artistic directors of Kunsthalle Wien. WHW continues working in Zagreb, where activities are led by Ana Dević.

Since the first exhibition in 2000, WHW curated numerous international projects, among which are Collective Creativity, Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel, 2005; 11th Istanbul Biennial What Keeps Mankind Alive?, Istanbul, 2009; and One Needs to Live Self-Confidently…Watching, Croatian pavilion at 54th Venice Biennial, 2011. With the artistic leadership of curatorial collective What, How and for Whom / WHW, Kunsthalle Wien positions itself as a city institution attentive to recent cultural practices outside the centers of power and curious about Vienna’s multi-cultural past and present.