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At Your Service – Art and Labour at Technisches Museum Wien‏

Design by Walking Chair Design Studio.

At Your Service – Art and Labour

An exhibition by the Technisches Museum Wien and ERSTE Foundation
23 March 2012–3 March 2013

Technisches Museum Wien
Mariahilfer Straße 212
1140 Vienna, Austria

The Technisches Museum Wien and ERSTE Foundation are exploring new ground, engaging technology and art in dialogue. For the exhibition entitled AT YOUR SERVICE – ART AND LABOUR, artists Pavel Braila, Anna Jermolaewa, Daniel Knorr and Ulrike Lienbacher have been invited to produce new art works on the theme of labour. The works are to be integrated into the Museum’s permanent exhibition as art interventions. Videos by Harun Farocki, Adrian Paci, and Anne Tallentire complement the spectrum.

The show involves 7 artists from 7 different countries. 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 artists pointedly address a range of topical issues: 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.

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.

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.

Together with the AT WORK exhibition, AT YOUR SERVICE ART AND LABOUR represents this year’s focus by the Technisches Museum Wien on this complex issue. For the AT YOUR SERVICE exhibition the Technisches Museum Wien and the ERSTE Foundation have set up a partnership for the first time. The ERSTE Foundation for its part has been working for years in the field of contemporary art and the themes of social integration, demographic trends and migration. As it is active not just in Austria but throughout central and eastern Europe, it is able to channel its international experience. Implicitly, the joint venture also explores the work theme against the backdrop of the current economic and social situation in these regions, regions in which Austria has a long history. In many sectors Austria’s domestic labour market is interlinked both historically and currently with that of its neighbouring countries to the (south) east. A focal point of the exhibition is therefore the supra-regional and global links without which any view of Austria would not be possible.

Project Team / Technisches Museum Wien: Elisabeth Limbeck-Lilienau, Christine Lixl, Roswitha Muttenthaler

Curators: Silvia Eiblmayr (curator and member of the art advisory council of “Kontakt. The Art Collection of Erste Group and ERSTE Foundation “) and Christiane Erharter (curator at Programme Culture, ERSTE Foundation)

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