The Workers: Precarity, Invisibility, Mobility

An exhibition on the contemporary state of labor
May 29, 2011–Mar 15, 2012

Curated by Susan Cross and Carla Herrera-Prats

We all know what Rosie the Riveter looked like, and what she stood for.

Ford-era production line labor -- and the rise of powerful unions -- left us indelible portraits of work in mid 20th century America.

Before that, Dickens created searing portraits of labor in the proto-industrial era, as Millet and his followers recorded a vivid picture of agrarian labor in mid 19th century Europe.

But what does work look like today in a global economy marked by outsourcing, rapid migration, disruptive economies, and a state of labor that seems fractured, precarious, and almost invisible? With video, sculpture, photography, and performance art from 25 artists, this exhibition examines the way labor is represented today (and how some contemporary workers choose to represent themselves).

The timing, and the place, could not be more fitting: Once the site of a bustling factory itself -- whose closure in the face of intense international competition left nearly a third of it's community out of work -- MASS MoCA is perhaps uniquely positioned to present this timely show. The history of North Adams' workers mirrors that of many in the United States and abroad today who have lost a way of life to the perennial hunt for cheaper labor, even while the low-wage workers who replaced them have just begun to organize for more rights and better working conditions.

The exhibition will include nearly 40 works by 25 emerging and established international artists including Claire Beckett, Osman Bozkurt, Camel Collective, Mircea Cantor, Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar, Susan Collis, Vicky Funari and Sergio De La Torre, Jason Dodge, Sam Durant, Harun Farocki, Yevgeniy Fiks, Anthony Hernandez, Oded Hirsch, Hugo Hopping, Emily Jacir, Laboratorio 060 with York Chang, Mary Lum, Yoshua Okon, Adrian Paci, Jaume Pitarch, Oliver Ressler, Stephanie Rothenberg, Tyler Rowland, Allan Sekula, and Santiago Sierra.

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