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LFQ 4.1 – Finnegan, 8 Hours of Work

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From 11 am to 7 pm on June 9, 2012, artist Shannon Finnegan sat at a desk writing the same two phrases on alternating sides of 8 ½ by 11–inch paper: “I should be working more” and “I should be working less.” The sustained activity produced a surplus of paperwork, i.e. works on paper. Situated in a gallery space, the prolonged action recalled the endurance performances of Chris Burden or Marina Abromovic, but staged nothing more taxing than the conventional, eight-hour workday. The undertaking tackled two commonly held assumptions: that artists’ labor stands apart from other kinds of work, and that it necessarily produces rarefied objects through uncommon means. The words, neatly and methodically hand-printed in ballpoint pen at the center of each page, evoke a tripartite source of anxiety that plagues contemporary workers and artworkers alike: overtaxed exhaustion, the temptation to relax, and the twinge of guilt associated with squandering spare time.