Where and how might we work in the future? Collapsing the boundaries between home and workplace.
Photo by Agniezka Chabros

20 – 26.05.2019

WORKPLACE is a participatory live artwork and installation that invites members of the public to apply for a future job.
 Commissioned by the City of Melbourne for Melbourne Knowledge Week 2019, WORKPLACE fostered citizen and worker engagement in future imagining and created rich, public conversations on the future of work. Using a playful and inclusive approach, WORKPLACE asked workers what the relationship between labour and capital might look like in an age of increased automation and invited them to share their desired futures of work. By examining our current relationships with work, WORKPLACE asks what alternative possibilities might exist.

WORKPLACE, Melbourne Knowledge Week 2019. Photo by Agniezka Chabros

What might a workplace look like in 2069? Where will work be situated, how might it be valued, and who will perform it?

WORKPLACE framed the ‘job interview’ as ritual, melding the visual language and performative aspects of an office interview with that of a tarot reading. Channelling both an employer and fortune teller, we created interactions with audiences that challenged the power dynamics between employer and potential employee; fortune teller and fortune seeker. Instead of receiving a forecast of work futures, audiences were invited to share their future hopes and anxieties and explore their desired futures of work. Each participant walked away with a Future Work Contract – an automatically generated document based on the participant’s desired future of work. Each personalised contract formed a personal ‘demand on the future’ and an illustration of the future work arrangements imagined by each participant.

Future job interview. Photo by Agniezka Chabros

Members of the public were invited to take part in a 20-30 minute interview, purportedly to determine their ‘future work readiness’. These semi-structured interviews were based around seven work tarot cards: The Hourglass explored hours of work and length of work week; The Eye addressed surveillance in the workplace; The Circle explored workplace inclusion and exclusion; The Cog asked questions about the future of automation; The Scales discussed how labour is valued and remunerated; The Precariat explored precarity in the workforce. The Heart card explored futures of care – visitors are asked who or what they think should care for the young or elderly in the future.

Work tarot reading. Photo by Agniezka Chabros

Each interview was closed with the ritual of signing the contract, stamping it as ‘FUTURE READY’ and shaking each participant’s hand to seal the deal.

Future Work Contract (FWC) signing. Photo by Agniezka Chabros

“I’ve kept my future work contract from three months ago and wanted to say thank you for empowering me to look at work from a different
perspective.” – participant, WORKPLACE

Receiving a Future Work Contract (FWC). Photo by Agniezka Chabros

Lead Artist: Ana Tiquia
Graphic Design: Corey James
Interior architecture and design: Colby Vexler & James Taylor
Costume design: Annie Wu / Articles of Clothing

Commissioned by City of Melbourne