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The Work of Art, Art Association of Australia & New Zealand, Canberra,

1st-3rd December 2016

Panel Convenor for: ‘Labouring the Subject’ 

Maria Eichhorn’s Strategic Refusal, or the Non-Use of Bodies in Precarious Times

Sophie Knezic (University of Melbourne)


5 Weeks, 25 Days, 175 Hours represents Maria Eichhorn’s interruption to the convention of the ‘nine to five’ working week. Positioned by Eichhorn as both an artwork and a philosophical enquiry, the project invokes questions about the binaries of work and leisure, the expanded nature of immaterial labour, the use of bodies and the assignation of value to time, as well as issues of sovereignty and volition. Political theorists Maurizio Lazzarato, Franco Bifo Berardi and Isabell Lorey concur in citing the cultural industries as the frontline of immaterial labour where forms of cognitive and creative work problematically diffuse with life or free time. The constancy of digital interaction characteristic of the zeitgeist described by Jonathon Crary accentuates this convergence. If so, when cultural workers are freed from the obligation to work (or refuse to), does the notion of free time become a self-contradiction? Drawing on the philosophical speculations of Giorgio Agamben, Gerald Raunig and Bifo Berardi, this paper examines the strategy of refusal within the context of contemporary art; its history, limits and efficacy.

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