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.
It is suggested to understand ‘doing nothing’ in the sense of ‘being’ and through the prism of a spiritual exercise: as a possibility to create a void, to experience inaction and being present to oneself.
Participants to this performance are asked to accomplish a paradoxical task – to explore a state only defined by negation. Strictu sensu, one cannot do nothing: our bodies require at least minimal activity, our heads at least minimal thoughts forming, our senses at least minimal perceptions captured. Therefore, ‘doing nothing’ proposes an exercise of awareness where expanding emptiness can be gained by refraining from any action, time and again.
Far from an attitude of passivity, this approach is close to the concept of wu wei taking its origin from Chinese philosophy: agency without acting. Activating an inner space in deep connection to the self, while sitting quietly, ‘doing nothing’ reveals its generative emancipatory potential.
In whichever way 'doing nothing' is enacted concretely, the contract signed by participants formally recognizes that what they are doing is what 'nothing' is.
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