IMPAKT Centre for Media Culture – Utrecht (Olanda)
10/02/2023 – 10/04/2023

From 10 February till 10 April 2023, IMPAKT presents the exhibition Out of Office: a collection of artistic responses that reveal, rethink and reject our constant drive towards productivity. How can we carve out space to catch our breath?

Our schedules are packed. We define ourselves by our work. And we are constantly exhausted. The excesses of today’s technology-driven work culture are familiar to everyone – efficiency has become the norm and permanent availability a given.

Technological advances didn’t create a future that frees humans from labour after all. Instead we see management algorithms optimising labour efficiency without concern for the people who do the work. We see apps and platforms pushing us to become the ‘best’ (read: most productive) version of ourselves. In our current neoliberal society, we’re constantly either working or thinking about work, or else feeling guilty about not working. The title Out of Office will be familiar from those auto-reply emails informing us of the sender’s non-availability, but it can also be read as a reference to how work follows us wherever we go. The pandemic accentuated existing problems on the labour market, and opened the eyes of many. People started to reconsider their priorities in life and work and new terms like ‘the great resignation’ and ‘quiet quitting’ are now common.

The artists in the exhibition reflect on their own position and current conditions in the workplace. They question standard practices and explore the subversive potential of conventions such as the auto-reply, the CV and the eight-hour workday. Jobs requires us to perform – in the sense of successfully carrying out desired tasks but also in the sense of acting. Building on this inherent performativity of the roles we take up at work, Out of Office explores actions for critique and resistance. In the modern workplace context, doing nothing, not showing up, or gestures of mutual support become acts of resistance against a system in which profit, efficiency, and optimisation are central. How to extend such resistance to foster collective action and solidarity?

With works by: Art Goss, Alina Lupu, Sam Meech, Adrian Melis, Mario Santamaría, Tytus Szabelski, Pilvi Takala, Total Refusal en
Curator: Marijn Bril 
Assistant curator: Daniela Tenenbaum 
Exhibition design: Zalán Szakács

With the support of: City of Utrecht, Creative Industries Fund NL, Mondriaan Fund and Fentener van Vlissingen Fund.