THEME 14

WORK

(2 -31 July, 2020)

 

“Work: activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something”

Merriam-Webster

 

For some, holiday season is approaching (or has begun). Others will be busy working for the days and weeks ahead. Work, work, work... Since industrialization, human beings have often had to reinvent their relationship to work. Very recently, the pandemic and confinement have forced us to consider work differently. Teleworking, or telecommuting, is more widespread now than it was four months ago. Don't we now see health care and essential services workers in a different light?

 

What about artists? What kind of relationship do they have with work? Although freedom and flexibility is generally associated with art, several socio-economic and political constraints are part of the reality of artists and cultural workers. In an article to appear in this blog, Anne-Marie St-Jean Aubre, Curator of Contemporary Art at the MAJ, reminds us that "cultural workers and artists work in a sector where many are called but few are chosen. Competition is just as strong for positions in artist-run centres, exhibition centres and museums as it is for exhibition and residency opportunities. For every superstar artist whose work is valued at impressive prices on the art market, hundreds more struggle to make ends meet."

 

Nathalie Galego, Assistant Curator of Collections at the MAJ, will focus on the theme of industrial work, which has received little attention in Canadian painting. In her blog post , she will talk about works by painter Adrien Hébert that remarkably bear witness to the industrial reality of Montreal in the last century.

 

Whether industrial, artistic, or other, work challenges and shapes us. It speaks of the world we live in, and occasionally reveals important things about ourselves as individuals. For those who are working too hard at the beginning of this hot summer, let’s recall these words by Félix Leclerc: "Nature stops working. Why shouldn't I?”

 

 Here we are, in the middle of July, probing the idea of work. We invite the Quarantined Museum community to first take a step back. Let's take a breath. What images comes to mind when thinking about work... or the ideal job? How much time, space, and energy do we let this activity take in our lives? What does it mean for you to “exert strength or faculties to do or perform something”?