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Kay Abude 

Piecework (Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts)


Installation and performance

Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts, Melbourne


This artwork was an installation and series of durational performances exhibited at Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts, Melbourne as part of the 2014 Innovators 2 program. The artwork consisted of three workstations and three workers dressed in a uniform. The workers cast plaster objects the size of 14.4kg gold bars from moulds. These casts were then painted gold. Piecework displayed a purposefully futile labour that was repetitive and tireless. The artwork explored a form of work that related to performance that was quantifiable. It investigated ideas of power and value and sought to asks questions about the role and meaning of labour within artistic practice.


Shift work is characteristic of the manufacturing industry, and the artwork employed a performance strategy by using Linden as a workplace that was in constant operation over the period of a 24-hour cycle. The workers performed the ‘three-shift system’ (Shift 1: 0600-1400, shift 2: 1400-2200 and shift 3: 2200-0600) to produce the gold bars throughout the six-week exhibition period. They were paid a fixed piece rate for each unit produced/each operational step completed per shift. Ideas of the factory were embedded in the very nature of the artwork as it mimicked a manufacturing process carried out by the workers who took up their posts in eight-hour shifts.


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