Video, 13 min, HD, 16:9, sound
A call centre – a symbolic venue of communication and the unceasing performance of service – forms the backdrop for the video film THE CALLING produced by the artists’ duo FORT especially for the show. In this case, however, the employees are fast asleep at their workplaces, surrounded by the noise of various technical devices.
In his essay Rex Exsomnis: Sleep and Subjectivity in Capitalist Modernity, 2013, the philosopher Alexei Penzin describes the “concern about sleep” as symptomatic of the present. Even the unproductive side of human everyday life has already long been pervaded by normative dispositifs: figures of recuperation, “recharging one’s batteries”, staying fit. Sleep is optimized, shortened, reflected, adapted. Not least significantly, the physical phase of rest common to all human beings is meanwhile reminiscent of contemporary disorders – burnout, depression, exhaustion – in which the same working norms reveal their own deterioration.
The film stages the fleeting transition between the state of being awake and that of working; sleep appears as a motif for a temporary, perhaps even resistive, escape from the work context. At the same time, in the twenty-first century the boundary between work and non-work has virtually been abolished. Even the rapture brought about by exhaustion plays out in the immediate vicinity of constantly alert machines.
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