Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hard Work

If there is one thing on everyone’s minds these days, it’s jobs. Roughly 1 out of every 11 Americans is unemployed; Obama’s Jobs Bill just got voted down; the Occupy Wall Street movement has spread to squares and campuses across the nation; and news segments endlessly discuss potential economic plans for job creation. In her infinite wisdom, Curator Susan Cross has channeled this timely and contentious discourse (and its historical roots) into her show, The Workers, on view at MassMoCA through March 2012. In it, labor emerges as the dominant theme that is taken up in different contexts by the 25 international artists and filmmakers featured. Here, the artists talk about work while making work. Adrian Paci’s 2007 video of a mass of laborers stranded in the middle of an empty runway, poignantly addresses the plight of the migrant worker; Mary Lum’s billboard project of personally stamped brown paper bags (whose work will also be featured in The 2012 deCordova Biennial) elevates and personalizes the worker; while other projects like Sam Durant’s sculptural gallows remember a darker history of labor activism. More than just a timely reflection – The Workers showcases the variety of perspectives and thinking about industry, economy, and the jobscape today.

Adrian Paci, Centro di Permanenza Temporanea, 2007, video still

Mary Lum, Made with Pride by Terry Russell, 2011