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After Work: Josh Kline in Conversation with Helen Hester and Nick Srnicek

Fri, Aug 11, 2023
6:30 pm

Susan and John Hess Family Theater and Online, via Zoom

The struggle against work – in all its forms – is the fight for free time… This is not simply a matter of making ‘more time for families’, nor is it a question of more time for waged labor, nor does it concern some mythical idea of work-life balance. The fight for free time is ultimately a matter of opening up the realm of freedom itself…

--Helen Hester and Nick Srnicek

This program brings Josh Kline into conversation with scholars Helen Hester and Nick Srnicek, co-authors of After Work: A History of the Home and the Fight for Free Time (2023). Together they will discuss automation, post-work politics, and the economics of care and social reproduction, delving into the ideas behind Kline’s works and speculating on the perils and promises of automation and artificial intelligence for the labor force.

Kline’s installation Unemployment (2016), which is being shown in its entirety as part of Project for a New American Century, speculates on the possible near-future human consequences of AI as it enters the workplace, including mass-unemployment among the middle class. Alongside this dark vision, a fictional political commercial for universal basic income (UBI) set in 2032 raises the potential for more liberatory outcomes. In his multifaceted examination of the future of work, Kline engages with the recent discourse of post-work politics in which theorists have argued that automation should be used to free human beings from physical and mental drudgery; and that our lives could and should be less centered around our jobs. 

With their new book, After Work, Hester and Srnicek extend the discussion about the reduction of work to the vast universe of uncompensated labor that takes place primarily in the home, labor that has historically fallen unequally on the shoulders of women: domestic labor, care, and social reproduction. While the recent arrival of large language model chatbots like ChatGPT heralds massive disruption and dislocation in the workplace, labor in the home is in no danger of disappearing anytime soon. Hester and Srnicek chart the proliferation and unequal distribution of these forms of labor, while proposing a path toward real free time for all. 

The program is followed by a book signing and reception to celebrate the publications After Work: A History of the Home and the Fight for Free Time and Josh Kline: Project for a New American Century.

Helen Hester is a professor of gender, technology, and cultural politics at the University of West London. Her research interests include techno-feminism, social reproduction, and theories of work, and she’s a member of the international working group Laboria Cuboniks. Her books include Beyond Explicit: Pornography and the Displacement of Sex (2014) and Xenofeminism (2018).

Nick Srnicek is a senior lecturer in digital economy at King’s College London. He is the author of Platform Capitalism (2016) and, with Alex Williams, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work (2015). 

Josh Kline is an artist best known for creating immersive installations incorporating video, sculpture, photography, and design questioning how emergent technologies are changing life in the twenty-first century. At its core, Kline’s practice is focused on work and class, exploring how today’s most urgent social and political issues—climate change, automation, disease, and the weakening of democracy—impact the people who make up the labor force. 

The Susan and John Hess Family Theater is equipped with an induction loop and infrared assistive listening system. Accessible seating is available.

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