The agreeable just in time

The agreeable just in time
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The agreeable just in time 

 

‘A harmonious, uncontaminated, ancient hilly landscape. A hole. A room under the open sky, dug in the earth, measuring 3x3x3 metres; the perpendicular walls and the floor are as smooth as the earth allowed. There is no furniture and only three lumps of earth on which to sit.’ (Folci)
‘Some guest prisoners ( a sociologist, Laura Fiocco, a philosopher,  Paolo Virno, Toni Negri, Giuliana Commisso and the artist) have been let into the room and left to engage in conversation, without a set script nor moderators. The audience gathered outside to observe what was happening underground. […] Sheet metal, cars, cuts, bodywork, sheeting, assembling. Little by little the factory materialized in the discussion, until the integrated productive system in the tireless production cycle was visualised.’
A geometrically determined space filled with people talking, intellectuals whose theoretical research focuses on the factory and whose art critique is strongly concerned with issues tied to the territory, who are free to talk and say what they want. The soil can perhaps stimulate new, unusual exchanges. To have intellectuals stage their talk in a hole in the ground is a way to make it more difficult for their verbal exchange to forget their connection with matter. It is an invitation to thought to remain firmly anchored to its bodily roots. The spectators sit on the lawn near the hole, with the ones nearest to it participating in the discussion: Alberto Grifi speak their minds. Folci points out that this ‘is a work that seeks to establish a mental place of belonging – we are inside the earth, not in the centre of it – and the tension towards a definition of human nature which cannot be defined by work. A space to drum up a libertarian thought that can elaborate answers to the new capitalistic strategies and extremist practices of surveillance and control of the labour force following a totalising project that aims to control the bio-politic productivity of the multitudes.’
The participants’ discussion in and out of the hole sprang from an implicit canvas set out in the other component of Folci’s operation, an installation mounted in the Roman countryside for this installation, Mauro Folci extracted some footage from a State Television documentary tracing the history of the Italian car industry, and of Fiat in particular, from its origins to the present day and printed the images as digital photographs, which were enlarged so that the details were pixellated. Also the voice-over commentary of the original documentary was extracted, rerecorded separately and played before visitors entered the room, whose walls were covered with photographs of the workers. The artist describes this phase of his work: ‘a female voice-over commentary, which suddenly sounds soft and seductive like the voice of a tour leader whilst talking about the factory at Melfi, introduces us to a somewhat idyllic workplace which, in radical contrast to that Fordist model that seemed intended mainly as a place of atonement of an original class sin, is a place of ‘real democracy’, and even more, as if factory life heralded the divine acknowledgement of the ‘eternal good’. The photographic portraits seem suspended in a dimension outside of time, steeped in a metaphysical atmosphere, as if in a surreal thriller, and the workers look just like actors, young and handsome; distracted from the work at hand, their gazes go beyond what is visible, emanating a strange light that collective imagination and much iconographic representation of ecstasy have associated with the state of grace, and yet it is the expression of efficient production. The commentary tells us, and the images prove, that Melfi’s industrial estate was designed to soften the impact with the ‘monstrous machines’ and create an ecological environment: no dirt or materials on the floor (not even at the assembly bay) little noise (even at the presses), no smell (not even at the varnishing shop) and where the workers’ intervention is required, the body is positioned in such a way so as to facilitate operations. Similarly to the Toyota establishment in Ohio, Melfi is ‘an interplay of gazes, gestures, interpretation of colours of the various notices waved by the workers in charge of  the final assembly, to signal the kind of detail needed.’

What is particularly striking in the grainy images is the beauty of the faces and of the backgrounds, whilst the voice that seeps out of the speakers placed around the room, with its catchy rhythm and tone, is styled as if for an advertisement inviting us to visit an exotic location. Although the synctactic choices and delivery of the message may make us feel enveloped in a beguiling advertising campaign, with images that may transport us with all the expressiveness of professional photography, the real subject portrayed is a factory whose KANBAN EFFECT and implicit goodness of the agreeable just-in-time are object of celebration. The artist has chosen to analyse the organisational structure of the integrated factory because its meaning transcends it and because he reputes it ‘an effective means to understand today’s dynamics of power and capital’. What is shown is ‘the process of work as a hermeneutic free activity, where information and communication become the analytic components of discipline instead’.

 

by Marta Roberti, Working Whilst Talking, Talking Whilst Working

 

Roman countryside, Roma 2003

‘A harmonious, uncontaminated, ancient hilly landscape. A hole. A room under the open sky, dug in the earth, measuring 3x3x3 metres; the perpendicular walls and the floor are as smooth as the earth allowed. There is no furniture and only three lumps of earth on which to sit.’ (Folci)
‘Some guest prisoners (a sociologist, Laura Fiocco, a philosopher, Paolo Virno, Toni Negri, Giuliana Commisso and the artist) have been let into the room and left to engage in conversation, without a set script nor moderators.[…]

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