Vigil for the Death of Free Time
Minimalism was originally a reaction to the individualistic excesses and bank-friendly ambivalence of Abstract Expressionism, which Nelson Rockefeller once described as “free enterprise painting”. If it were to emerge as a new movement in 2016, then it would undoubtedly represent a similar stance towards the flexibility and obedience of today’s instrumentalised artistic labourers. For today’s culture of voluntarism and precarity is kept alive by nothing less than the ghost of modernism. Whether they like it or not, artists are sustained by their egos and the myth that they are making a difference. In reality, they are instrumental in creating a post-welfare culture of voluntarism, sustained by the endless labour of self-making.
I present no alternatives or outsides to the labour power that artist’s frequently misrecognise as capital, except for a futile call for the withdrawal of labour. The clock is an ironic counterpoint to this act, representing the end of clock-time in an age of self-regulated / self-surveilled labour, in which there is no ‘free time’ and the tick of the clock is subsumed into the heartbeat of subjective labour. Performing the act of ‘killing time’ highlights the futility of non-participation. However, in the context of a conference, only a fool would refuse the opportunity to network, because without social networks we are adrift in a sea of signs and possibilities, and unplugged from the cybernetic feedback systems that sustain our labour. The performance serves not only as a reminder that refusal of work is a dangerous and potentially suicidal game but also an act of labour in itself; turning away from the shadows of illusion and language, and towards the shadow within and the potentiality of Jung’s “dark night of the soul”.