A Commentary on Productivity (ACOP) arose through an interest in investigating the idea of productivity. The project started as an informal research task, at first merely engaging in conversations with friends and friends of friends about what they thought productivity was, was it important in their day-to-day lives and was it something they felt society required of them? It then progressed to a series of interviews with musicians, where discussions on creative process, routine, time-management, discipline and career trajectories took place. From this point came a series of questions that I wanted answered through a variety of media; I didn’t want to limit my understanding of another’s experience by only looking at written words on the subject. It was this that compelled me to approach visual and audio-visual artists with these questions. I continued this mixed-media approach throughout the duration of the exhibition process.
ACOP is an exhibition taking place in two different locations, at two different stages. Exhibition 1 (E1): The Berlin ‘Non-Exhibition’ was set up on 25 September, at the abandoned VEB Berliner Metalhütten und Halbzeugwerke in Schöneweide, Berlin. It was to exist only as a one day install-removal job, however was extended to the following day, and then finally left as a gallery-in-progress, whereby works could decay or be added to by other passers-by. Artists were asked to think of this as a space for exploration, or a testing-ground, where unfinished works could be shown and experimented with. This exhibition aimed to highlight the importance of the process, rather than putting the greatest emphasis on the final product. It also aimed to make the viewer consider the transience of man-made objects – the product of ‘productive’ behaviour. It perhaps implies an element of idleness to giving productivity, and by extension efficiency and capitalist ideas of success, the status they have today.
Moreover, one was also able to see first-hand the inner workings of the exhibition process, with no distinction held between installation and opening.
E1 was as much a space of experimentation and learning for me as I hope it was for the artists.
As curator of ACOP, I see my role as primarily facilitatory when it comes to what each artist has chosen to present. To me it’s been really important that I don’t influence the other artists too much, but that I’m able to work with them in producing work that reflects their knowledge of and associations with productivity. This part has been really rewarding, as I’ve come to make new judgments of my own seeing the artists go through this process.
Although E1 exists as an expression of art in its own right, the outcome of its documentation will be shown as an installation in Exhibition 2 (E2): The Melbourne Exhibition.