Ann-Sofie Öman on Looking For Work by Milijana Babič

So simple, and still so loaded with power. At first you might think that the exhibition Looking For Work is the result of a very spoiled, self centered, young artist, whose talent might be questioned. Why do I have to do this? I'm an Aaartist!!!

Covering the walls of a whole room, in a limited exhibition space, with framed pages from newspapers, where your ad for a job is printed. Is this art? Using a videocamera to document what you're doing when you're working with jobs that don't require any kind of education, and then showing the films using several monitors at the same time at an exhibition. Is this art? Writing down on white sheets of paper what kind of jobs you've had, in order to support yourself, what you actually did, what you thought about it, how much you earned and if there was any kind of future in the job, and then hang these sheets on a wall. Is this art?

Of course it is!

It's the true job of the artist: to convey what it is like to be a human being, in this case an underpaid, sometimes not paid at all, well educated woman who can't support herself in the field that she has been trained and educated for.

Now, wait a minute. Isn't the education she has got meant to give her the tools to do exactly what she has been doing? Hmmm. So she IS actually working as an artist all the time, while she is working as a cleaning lady, as a sales person, as a waitress and so on, BECAUSE in her mind she is an artist and she is documenting what she is doing BECAUSE she is an artist. It's kind of an undercover performance!

But do we need this kind of art? Of course we do!

There's a very important message in this exhibition: there are jobs out there that are so badly paid that you can't support yourself on them, there are jobs out there that are so uninspiring that you lose your mental capabilities if you're holding on to them, there are jobs out there where you're treated as a second class human being, there are jobs out there where you are used, used and used, over and over again.

This is not something that hits just the artist, who has to support herself or himself while waiting for a "REAL" job.

This exhibition is just as much a megaphone for the silent voices of all the people who have to support themselves by doing this kind of work, people who ARE NOT artists, people who don't put together exhibitions where they are displaying their ads for a job, what they are doing when they actually are working and what they think about it.

There should be a completely new approach to these kind of jobs, and to the ways you can possibly get any kind of job, whether you're an artist or not. But the market for jobs, as it looks today, isn't governed by artists. What if someone, maybe an artist, applied for money for an experiment, a project, in order to find a different way of getting these jobs done with dignity, and also in order to find a different system for getting a job no matter what kind of job it is. That would be a nice result of this exhibition, because as the exhibition clearly shows - it's not very nice out there. 

Ann-Sofie Öman
Covering City of Women for the Swedish magazine Danstidningen

Related project: 
Looking For Work