project image
Birgit Larson

first performed on March 12, 2019
artist’s backyard, artist’s studio, various, Beacon, NY
performed 72 times in 2019


Beacon, NY


This iteration of “Performing Labor” is part of a larger ongoing body of work which began in 2017 and continues into the present. This second phase of the project, started in April 2019, is a reflection and investigation into labor and art making during a period of unemployment as defined by the New York Department of Labor.

As part of my “unemployment” the NYDOL required me to keep a work search log as well as “be ready, willing and able to perform work”, but NOT allowed to “work” in order to claim weekly benefits. As defined by the NYDOL “work” means “any service you performed for a business or person on any day in the week, even if it was only for an hour or less. This includes work you did in self-employment or on a freelance basis, even if you were not paid.”

I “performed labor” four days a week for a period of eighteen (thus far) weeks. I was paid $504 / week through the unemployment benefits.

For each “labor performance” I wore a business suit and kept a time sheet. These “performance works” often took on presumably meaningless or decontextualized tasks in public and private spaces or for impromptu / unaware audiences. By “performing labor” while continuing to claim benefits I seemingly abused the NYDOL regulations, seeking to understand the relationship between the value, intention, and pleasure in labor and art making.