VISITORS OF AN EXHIBITION SPACE ARE SUGGESTED
TO 'DO NOTHING'
Testimonial by Jesse Van Winden / conversation with Katya Ev
KE: Hi, Jesse!
JVW: Hi, Katya!
KE: Jesse, you are curator - researcher at art-run platform Jubilee and editor at the research group Caveat. And you were the first visitor of the performance. How was it?
JVW: Actually it was a relief. What I came out of the experience with was a real happiness to have spent that hour, a little bit more than an hour. From the beginning I did not really know how to do it, because in all kind of ways ‘doing nothing’ is actually technically and logically impossible. So what I did is actually let go of all conscious strearing of anything. That’s the part that I could control. Then there were all kind of parts that you could not control and my strategy was just to observe them… what would happen that I could not control, what kind of thoughts, sensations, insights. It’s like an inner eye as if you are sitting in a little cinema experiencing what’s going on in your head and beyond. That worked really well, and the feeling it gave me was really strong, it was a relief. Still things will happen, so ‘doing nothing’ it is not the case, but nothing imperative. I have to do nothing - a good subtitle. Or having nothing to do [laughing].
An hour that you are sitting there, you do observe around. I saw really nice things, a little detail on the ceiling, on one of the beams there was this object, probably a technological object or something, but it looked small, structured, as a beautiful sculpture installed on the ceiling - this kind of weird observations that trigger all kinds of memories […] I also fell a sleep to or three times which is also an effect of being way too occupied […] That made time go significantly faster […] I would do it again and stay as long as possible for a total amount of three or four or five hours, that would be really interesting.
KE: Do you mean that you did nothing well enough to get paid?
The financial remuneration is a very important component of the work but in relation to the actual ‘doing nothing’ and the effort of being physically entirely present, embodied, and conscious, the financial remuneration can not be very just within the dramaturgie of a work like this. The financial remuneration is besides the point: everybody should have this kind of moment, preferably everyday. Nobody should have an obligation to pay you for being entirely yourself.
The compensation is an important component of the work because of equalisation with all the time that we spent doing things, worrying about things, taking responsibilities…, and in that sense to be on a contract - which is explicitly NOT a work contract, it’s a kind of simulacrum of a work contract, which makes it a sort of a play ; and explicitly NOT a fair payment but a minimum of a some weird kind, like Belgian legislation kind of rate, explicitly not fair, but sort of para-payment […] so being paid here is relevant in the context of productivism, constant pressure either by employers or by society at large… to be efficient and productive, according to pretty much quantifiable standards, be they monetary or time-based, did it work or did it not, did you win or not, are you the fastest? competition all over the place! In this context the payment is extremely important.