Does total freedom stimulate creativity? The experiment by the Public Art Agency Sweden
Two thousand euro a month base pay of indefinite duration, or to be precise, “forever”. With periodic pay raises. All legal. Job description: whatever you want. And if you prefer, nothing at all. The only task is to punch the time card on the way in and on the way out.
This is the provocative and unprecedented job offer – published online with an international call – for employment by the Public Art Agency Sweden, an agency based in Stockholm committed to exploring and developing correlations between contemporary art and public spaces. The “Eternal Employment” initiative – part of the Chronotopia project – was conceived by artists Jakob Goldin and Simon Senneby. “Eternal Employment” is the job offer for the Korsvägen station «that best satisfies the judgment criteria for the competition according to the jury – reads the presentation. In a humorous and critical way, it proposes an extended understanding of the theme Chronotopia in relation to Korsvägen, a vibrant area characterised by its activities and commercialism. Here, in the middle of the city-event, Eternal Employment proposes an elaborate conceptual work that illustrates the connection between an individual’s everyday life and the intangible transactions of the global economy»·
The project involves hiring a person for a job with no specific description for the station of Korsvägen, to be completed in Gothenburg, with the inauguration set for the year 2026.
«Whatever the employee chooses to do constitutes the work – reads the call. The employment contract is full time and of indefinite duration; should the employee resign or retire, a new employee is recruited.».
There will be a special clock – connected to a series of fluorescent lamps positioned over the platform where people wait for the trains – that will indicate the beginning and end of the work shift. « The artistic expression, visualised mostly through the lighting of the station, provides a direct sensory experience while suggesting multiple interpretations in relation to working environments. ». While it is true that no specific task will be assigned to the winner, the purpose of the project is to leverage the total freedom of occupying his time as he desires to stimulate the employee’s “creativity”. A sort of experiment to understand how free will can determine a worker’s capacity to give himself tasks and objectives.
A job is transformed into a full-fledged artistic expression
For anyone interested in further information, the Eternal Employment website (www.eternalemployment.com) has posted an “artistic manifesto” that provides a detailed explanation of the ideal candidate’s “characteristics”: «We’re looking for someone who wants to be right there. Where the roads meet», begins the offer that thanks the applicant in advance “for the daring” he demonstrates in applying. «Work in the worker’s town of Gothenburg. Sounds good! Sure sounds good! Employment. Permanent employment. An eternal permanent employment. A sign! A sign of the times. A sign from a time, from a different time, from a past time, in which only the time-card counted».
A provocative invitation to participate, even surreal, yet real enough to be accompanied by a detailed report about the salary with a projection of the pay raises over the years. The only blemish, it doesn’t start until 2025. If the job is still available!
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translation by Olga Barmine