Thursday, 2 May 2013

Anti-work banner for Ante

I'm not of the opinion that if we didn't have to work, everyone would sit in bed all day long letting the world go to shit (although it's possible we might not get up quite so early every day). All the things I do when I'm not working are much more useful and important in the wider scheme of things. Things like growing food, making things, playing music and agitating for a better, fairer world.

I do all of these activities with other people so I know I'm not alone in searching out meaningful things to do with my precious free time. And there are plenty of people who have been arguing for a long time that there is absolutely no need for us to work the way and the amount we currently do. Here's a bit more about that.

But as this is the second in a series of banners/flags declaring the kind of world I dream about, I want to take this a little bit further. Beyond the constraints of work, being compelled, coerced or forced to do anything is destructive. What I want (and what this banner declares) is "a place where we don't have to do anything".

I'll make no bones about it, "growing up" basically means no longer questioning or challenging authority and for most, actively defending power and privilege. This process starts when people willingly erase or deny who they are in order to fit in, feel more comfortable and make other people feel more comfortable. From there, it's a slippery slope.

This banner will be part of Ante-exhibition this weekend, a celebration and reclaiming of May Day. While I certainly want to celebrate the workers' struggles that have given me the right to work part-time, flexibly, with paid holidays and in safe conditions, I also want to rethink the concept of work and move it away from being something we have to do and somewhere we have to constantly fight for our rights. 

Let's also celebrate the ways we deny being defined by our work and refuse to "grow up". And within the scope of work, simple things like still dying our hair silly colors regardless of our age to the more difficult task of not becoming a collaborator with power.

Yes, a world where we don't have to do anything is a whole lot harder to achieve, and a whole lot less tangible than fighting for basic rights in the workplace. But if the right to dream is beaten out by what's easiest to win, we've already lost. 

Embroidery, applique and tea staining on fabric. To see this in person, along with lots of other exciting art, you are going to have to come to Ante in Shipley the 4th and 5th of May. See you there.

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