Work With Us, 2018
»Mixed media«, Audio loop 04:45 min
Courtesy the artist
*1981 in Saint-Étienne, France
lives in Berlin
Gisèle Gonon works in diverse media, often combining sculpture, drawings, video and sound. She is especially interested in the forms, colours, functions and social context from which a medium emerges. She links her research with collecting the materials that she works with: objects, tools and acts become altered and alienated from their original function. Gonon’s multimedia installation Work With Us calls into question the substance and methods of the modern world of work, exposing the advertising language that companies utilise to recruit their staff.
Job adverts filled with loud promises of creative freedom, personal development and fulfilment can be found everywhere on the labour market as companies seek to capture the interest of potential candidates. Such adverts are especially common in the world of start-ups: “Think big and act fast”, “A positive environment” and “Go for it and own it” are phrases from the audio loop in Gisèle Gonon’s work. Overwhelmed by recruitment adverts that promise heaven and earth, we experience the labour market as a complex system of incentives, promises and requirements that extend far beyond the professional sphere, encroaching on our personal lives.
The artist thereby casts a critical eye over the capitalist belief system and sheds light on its influence on the world of work.
*Luc Boltanski/Ève Chiapello, Le nouvel esprit du capitalisme, Paris 1999; English title: The New Spirit of Capitalism, London, 2005. The authors see their book as a critique of ideology. It examines how the ideological justification for capitalism has changed over time.
The artist thereby casts a critical eye over the capitalist belief system and sheds light on its influence on the world of work. “The new spirit of capitalism” * is also reflected in start-up culture. It seems as if it is no longer enough today to merely work for a company. Instead, employees must internalise its corporate values and identify with them completely. Work experience and professionalism are disregarded. Gonon’s goal is to disrupt and interrupt mechanical processes and to stage a kind of sabotage. All of this is linked to a strong political undertone, yet still always full of humour and subtlety. Her distorted representation of the “coffee fountain” is an especially striking example of how she achieves this. Here the artist refers to the noria effect, which describes a method for calculating the difference in wage costs between new, younger employees (with lower salaries) and their older counterparts (with higher salaries).
Born in France, the Artists has studied at the School of Art and Design in Saint- Étienne, she lives and works in Berlin and is the Co-Founder of the Collective CCPC (Collisions, Cataclysmes et Permis de Construire).