Image Employment

View on Contemporary Art Daily

On view September 5–October 7, 2013

Michael Bell-Smith, Neil Beloufa, Guy Ben-Ner, Ben Thorp Brown, DIS Magazine, Harm van den Dorpel, Daniel Eisenberg, Kevin Jerome Everson, Harun Farocki, Zachary Formwalt, Mark Leckey, Sharon Lockhart, Lumiere Brothers, Lucy Raven, Ben Rivers, Hito Steyerl, Superflex, Pilvi Takala, Ryan Trecartin, Andrew Norman Wilson

Curated by Aily Nash and Andrew Norman Wilson

Image Employment presents recent moving image works that investigate various modes of contemporary production. The selected works illustrate differing approaches to the subject, from observational films that avoid participation in capitalistic image creation, to videos that engage corporate omnipotence by employing its processes, as well as works that complicate these two tendencies.

Many of the films in the exhibition take an oppositional approach to commercial image making. In Kevin Jerome Everson's Quality Control African-American workers from an Alabama dry-cleaning factory are shown relentlessly carrying out their jobs in real time. Everson explores the duration and physicality of labor through a series of lengthy shots that draw attention to particular tasks such as working the pant press or ironing shirts.

Alternately, many video works in this exhibition employ corporate processes and communication by reiterating corporate imagery and intervening into sites of emergent industries and globalized consumption. DIS' Watermarked I Kenzo Fall 2012, for example, arose out of a paid commission for Kenzo's seasonal menswear collection. The work reflexively dramatizes the commercial advertisement form through the absurd excesses of the actors' expressions, the politically correct racial composition, and a stock media infused aesthetic.

Invoking the growing convergence between labor, consumption, and that which propels them, Image Employment examines different ways artists use moving image work to engage and confront contemporary modes of production.

See MoMA PS1 website for program details and full screening schedule.


Image Employment was restaged at the Sullivan Galleries at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2019 as part of the exhibition RE:WORKING LABOR. See exhibition details here.


Image Employment was offered as a course at Parsons and Bruce High Quality Foundation University in the spring of 2014. See the BHQFU syllabus (which includes links to readings) here.