Ne rien faire contre rémunération
performance & intervention in public space
produced with support of Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles
exhibition Entretenir vaut mieux, New Space, Liege (Be) - duo show with Marc Buchy
curated by Dorothée Duvivier
Images by Maxence Dedry
Ne rien faire contre rémunération [Doing nothing for payment] is a new context-specific version of the performance Visitors of an Exhibition Space are Suggested to 'Do Nothing' (2021).
The artist suggested to the public to sit in large comfortable chair and be paid for 'doing nothing' the local hourly minimum wage. Visitors first sign a contract that provides a legal frame to their commitment to ‘do nothing’. After ‘doing nothing’ they receive a proof of payment. All applicable taxes and social contributions are paid according to local laws and regulations.
The original idea of paying people for ‘doing nothing’ was born from a discussion with Azad Asifovich, Azerbadjan-born, Paris- based ‘curator-at-large’, in the beginning of March 2020.
It was conceived as a reaction to the pervading pressure for extensive overproduction and efficiency in the art-world and beyond. The exceptional circumstances that followed with
the general lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic made an uncanny echo to this project.
The contract was drafted together with legal expert Julie Van Elslande and cultural worker Jesse Van Winden within the framework of the research on ecologies of artistic practice entitled Caveat and conducted by the Brussels-based platform Jubilee.
Ne rien faire contre rémunération deconstructs the idea of 'doing nothing' as losing time, as well as productivity as valuable – because the participants are paid for it.
In a world where economic constraint dispossesses workers of a large part of their time, Ne rien faire contre rémunération reconsiders free time as a class privilege. ‘Doing nothing’ here is radically opposed to the notion of otium advocated by ancient philosophy and later widely developed in Western thought – an aristocratic grant obtained through the exploitation of others.
On the other hand, Ne rien faire contre rémunération unpacks the social stigma associated with 'doing nothing' as marginal pastime or procrastination. Unlike voluntary and involuntary outsiders, practicing inaction and refraining from accelerated productivity is no longer dissident when getting paid.
‘Doing nothing’ is thus practiced by the means of the capitalist system, where money is the ultimate measurement of symbolic value.*
Ne rien faire contre rémunération is conceived as a systemic proposal: a modèle reduit, or scale model, that formalizes and points out elements that belong to everyday capitalism. Using procedures, contracts, measured time, compensation, transaction, and so forth, it does not offer a commentary on ‘doing nothing’, but enacts it through a subversive device. It gives an objective, administrative existence to this ‘doing nothing’ and ‘nothingness’ recognized by the state, and by attributing to them monetary value, installs them in a capitalist logic.
* ‘Bullshit jobs’ and the notion of ‘bore-out’ are to be further discussed.
Images by the artist
excerpt from the personal dairy of Louis XVI, July 14, 1789
paint on wall, 18 x 56 cm
"Among all the words already painted in red on the walls of New Space MISE AU POINT [focus], FREINS [brakes], PREVENIR [prevention] C'EST [is] GOUVERNER [gouvernance]...), I slipped the word RIEN [nothing].Painted with an old patina. it disrupts the sentence "prevention is gouvernance'. This intervention is a historical reference. "RIEN [nothing]" is the sentence that Louis XVI wrote in his diary on 14 July 1789, the day the Bastille was taken...(!). I draw a poignant echo to the current situation of doing or not doing anything in wartime.... " 1
1 - interview by Pascale Viscardy, 'Entretenir vaut mieux', Flux News #88 (Be), 2022
first version of the performance:
Gosset site, Brussels (Be)
display campaign in public space
streets of Liege (Be)
Art au Centre#8