LABOR WORK ACTION
Gregory Kalliche, Jordan Kasey, Anne Libby, Amber Renaye
Organized by Silke Lindner Sutti
September 9 - October 9, 2016
LABOR is the activity which corresponds to the biological process of the human body […] The human condition of labor is life itself.
WORK is the activity which corresponds to the unnaturalness of human existence, which is not embedded in, and whose mortality is not compensated by, the species’ ever-recurring life cycle. Work provides an artificial world of things, distinctly different from all natural surroundings.
ACTION is the only activity that goes on directly between men without the intermediary of thing or matter, corresponds to the human condition of plurality […] Plurality is the condition of human action because we are all the same, that is, human, in such a way that nobody is ever the same as anyone else who ever lived, lives, or will live.
Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, 1958
In The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt asserts that human life on earth consists of three fundamental activities: labor, work, and action. This exhibition features work by Gregory Kalliche, Jordan Kasey, Anne Libby, and Amber Renaye that place themselves within these fundamentals. Addressing the automatization of everyday life, the dualism of nature and technology, and the interaction of our shared space on earth, all works connect through the human activity of work that distinguishes the human as homo faber: the creator of an artificial world of things who is able to determine his fate through tools.
The Human Condition was published almost 60 years ago, at a time when one could only guess how technology would dominate the future. Arendt’s certainty and clarity in which she predetermines the development of technological extensions of the human brain and body are remarkable. The works in the exhibition combine these still valid fundamentals of activities while positioning them in new perspectives on technology.
Anne Libby’s sculptures explore the relations of labor, mass production and technology. Using a CNC router - a computer controlled cutting machine - Libby combines and contrasts the characteristics of plywood and Formica. Formica, a highly industrial and durable material usually used for work surfaces and countertops - is shaped into ornamental flowers drawn from reproductions of Art Nouveau designs. The way the Formica droops off the plywood creates a wilting quality that highlights the fragile shift from manual labor to mass manufacturing at the beginning of the 20th century.
Jordan Kasey’s paintings explore the tension and interaction of the shared space of matter and physicality. Not togetherness but distance and solidarity are palpable in the space they occupy. Monumental larger-than-life figures spill out over the edges of the canvas. TV Dinner (2016) shows the back of a figure whose own interactions are paused while watching the acts of others.
Amber Renaye’s audio piece Four Four (2016) and corresponding wall-bound sculptures contemplate how “life is managing life”. Here, the necessity of walking - placing one foot in front of the other - is emblematic for labor as automated activity. Rather than walking a straight line from A to B the steps give room for the space in-between.
The dualism of nature and artificiality is epitomized in a dinosaur-human hybrid in Gregory Kalliche’s video Last Chance (2016). The video is named after the Heaven’s Gate cult’s video appeal Last Chance to Evacuate Planet Earth Before it is Recycled (1997) recorded shortly before the group’s collective suicide. In an inner monologue the humanized character of Last Chance attempts to overcome the ‘imprisonment to the earth’, escaping the human condition in favor of a yet undiscovered man-made condition.