Phase II, TESTING, or:
the exploitation of the desire for recognition in employment.

Like the threat of local unemployment due to globalisation, ultimately leading to a devaluation of actual work, a threat of sliding into permanent invisibility is dangling over the heads of artists and other freelancers in the shape of a nebulous mass, infiltrating all social interactions. There is tremendous pressure to prevent falling into obscurity, as there is pressure to prevent falling into unemployment, leading to a fierce materially destructive competition for a tiny piece of visibility or work at all costs, or, failing that, the appearance of work, even when this appearance of things actually ends up costing the same visibility/job seekers cash, so that in their pursuit for greater material gain, they are ultimately left with less. As they work to accrue more intangible positives on the visibility scale, they ultimately collect negatives on the material scale. The idea is to invest in visibility, which, it is suggested, will eventually translate into material goods and/or symbolic value, but in fact, the symbolic/material interest that accrues may not make it back to the exploited investors as a group - like the lottery, the system is not designed to benefit a multitude of ticket buyers.

Artists today must be teamplaying, professional, geographically flexible, upbeat multitaskers, have professionally designed websites, work in multimedia themselves and be socially engaged. Workers must invest in costly attire, laptops, designer wear and haircuts, classes for improving their resume writing, interviewing skills and portfolios, go into debt for professionally produced application photos, have many years of experience as unpaid interns and yet be young, dynamic and enthusiastic about the possibility of a workaholic career. Family responsibilities that involve caretaking of the elderly and the infirm as well as the education of children are seen as deficits verging on character faults to be kept under tight control and minimized, since indulging in them detracts from everyone's main prerogative, saving the German economy from lagging behind in an increasingly competitive globalized art/ free market.

 

Burnout and, particularly, a depleted self esteem often threaten the participants.

 

To maintain the intensity and level of concentration necessary to withstand the tremendous pressure of current art and work developments, in essence, to prevent burnout of individuals resulting from a constant effort to stem a globalized anxiety, social, economical and technical instruments are currently being developed.

The 1 EURO Job[1] is one such governmentally instituted instrument intended to reduce national unemployment figures in Germany, ostensibly giving the unemployed a leg up in the work force. In a similar vein, artists may be given the opportunity to finance the installation of their work with no compensation in lawyers and doctors offices, ostensibly granting them the "solo shows" necessary for their careers.

 

In a uniquely transdisciplinary approach, 1 EURO Jobbers Christine Oehler and Klaus Steltenkamp worked with artists Käthe Wenzel and Lisa Glauer to re-institute the forgotten social technique known as bauchpinseln ( belly stroking a.i. ego stroking.) They produced a manually held Jellibelly Stroking machine complete with servicepersonell, which ultimately resulted in the development of the fully mechanized Jellibelly Bauchpinselmaschine. In a step by step process, they first identified a desire for such an esteem building mechanical device, and designed and developed it in accordance with extensive research based on the results of a questionaire and interviews together with the aforementioned service team. They adapted and changed the ego enhanding device according to the needs voiced by a public questioned in extensive interviews. Analogous to the inevitability of progressive capitalist processes, the development of an increasingly refined machine led to a questioning of the need for an expensive and time consuming human servicing team at the other end of the (autonomous) ego enhancer, so that the inventors and implementers of the machines ultimately and collectively subtracted themselves as service personell in order to reduce additional cost, thereby becoming more efficient and economically viable in a globalized market.

The underlying question remains: Can the 1 Euro Job be compared to a Belly Stroking Machine for a German economy repeatedly described as endangered by people characterized by some as “socially weak”[2] within a globalized turbo capitalist market? Can the ego stroking device be used to uncover the inverted relationship between honest (self) acknowledgement and fair pay on the one hand and manipulative ego/national economy inflation on the other?

 



[1] According to Wikipedia, "1 Euro Jobs" are "working opportunities with additional cost compensation of one EURO" in terms of § 16 Abs. 3 SGB II. Citizens who have not worked for more than 12 month in the last 2 years can be forced to do 1 Euro Jobs or lose welfare benefits. 1 Euro Jobbers are not counted as unemployed for statistical purposes even though they are reported unemployed at the job center.

[2] The employee from GAB calls these “personal deficits”. See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmJlR1CNOYU