Monument to Work by Alexandra Pirici

Monument to Work by Alexandra Pirici

Public Art Agency Sweden

Factory interior, Gothenburg. Photo: Ricard Estay/ Public Art Agency Sweden.

May 21, 2015

Alexandra Pirici
Monument to Work

28–31 May 2015

Public talk: Saturday 30 May, 3pm

Hours: Thursday–Friday noon–2pm and 4–6pm,
Saturday–Sunday 1–3pm and 4–6pm

Curator: Lisa Rosendahl, Public Art Agency Sweden

Public Art Agency Sweden has commissioned a new work by artist Alexandra Pirici, taking the transition from industrial to post-industrial society as its point of departure. Monument to Work is a living public sculpture performed by people in motion. It will be enacted for the first time in central Gothenburg, a city with a long and proud industrial heritage. The work will also become part of the collection of the Public Art Agency Sweden, to be enacted repeatedly in the future. 

Monument to Work is based on the movement patterns of industrial workers from the 1970s until today, focusing on the working human body in the transition from industrial society to the post-industrial economy. As part of her working process, the artist has interviewed industrial workers from different generations about the movements they have performed in their working lives. 

The interviews were conducted in association with the workers’ union Verkstadsklubben at the ball-bearing industry SKF in Gothenburg. While the history of SKF—from its humble beginnings in Gothenburg at the start of the 20th century to its current globalised form with production in more than 100 countries—is a symbol of Swedish industry, the collaboration with the workers’ union evolved from Verkstadsklubben’s longstanding relationship to art: since the 1960s, the SKF workers have collected and commissioned art for their union building, which now houses Sweden’s largest collection of art dealing with the representation of labour.
Pirici’s Monument to Work highlights the working human body, rather than the buildings, machines or products of industry, thereby setting it apart from many other memorials devoted to the industrial age. A monument to and of work, the piece reflects the contemporary shift from physical to immaterial production, staging an abstraction of the function of the working body by displacing its movements from the factory floor to a performative context. 

Alexandra Pirici: “Monument to Work could be seen as a recurring public ritual to commemorate the physical labour that enabled modern society to evolve. It is also positioned in relation to the ongoing shift towards immaterial production: while paying an homage to demanding physical work, the Monument does not attempt to glorify and reproduce it by perfect illustration, neither to replace it with cognitive and affective labour that is just as demanding. It rather attempts to transform it, prompting us to imagine a future where the increasing automation that gradually makes not only physical industrial labour obsolete, but also starts to replace cognitive labour, could be seen as a possibility to work less for the same wages, or to make work as we know it a thing of the past entirely.”

About the artist
Alexandra Pirici is a Bucharest-based artist. With a background in choreography, she has an interdisciplinary practice, working across different media, from choreography to visual arts, music and film. Recent works include “An Immaterial Retrospective of the Venice Biennale”—together with Manuel Pelmus, exhibited in the Romanian Pavilion at the 55th edition of the Venice Biennale, public space and museum space projects for the Centre Pompidou, 12th Swiss Sculpture Exhibition, the Van Abbemuseum, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Leipzig, Bass Museum of Art – Miami and Manifesta10.

Public Art Agency Sweden is a governmental agency that explores and develops the relationship between contemporary art and public space. Through site-specific installations, temporary interventions, urban development projects, discussions, and publications, the agency aims to contribute meaningfully to the development of the fields of contemporary art and the public realm. More information on our website

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Public Art Agency Sweden
May 21, 2015

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