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To Work is to Play


Site specific performance

Duration 1:00

"To work is to Pray" "To work is to Play"


How we think about the world which we live in is structured and learned. We pass on knowledge and actions that speak to our own beliefs to a younger generation continuing human evolution through our energies, not qualities, as artists. The Swiss artist Thomas Hirshhorn believes in the positive change utilizing art and philosophy of great thinkers. Through the term 'display,' Thomas Hirschhorn has expanded the method of thought to include an innovative approach to art and life. The term 'display' was demonstrated on a smaller scale through the site specific Artomatic 419! installation; the former Lamson's Department Store in downtown Toledo, Ohio, through the project’s individual term intervention. Through the ‘active will’ of ‘working’ with the former Toledo slogan of “To work is to pray” and incorporating the installation references of the dress patterns developed throughout the project, energy was put forth to demonstrate Hirschhorn’s concept of the term ‘display.’
Hirschhorn prefers the term ‘display,’ rather than ‘installation,’ because of its pragmatic and commercial resonance.[1] He believes that the term ‘installation’ reduces the work to a set of conventions that can be qualitatively judged and so uses the term ‘display’ to describe his work. He argues that quantity and quality are the same and the value of arts is in the inspiration and energy of influence, not how high or low quality the art is. He considers his practice as “sculpture in the broadest sense,”[2] and he references Joseph Beuys’s concept of Social Sculpture. Beuys’s concept is when artists create structures in a society using language, thought, action, and object. Beuys created this concept believing in art’s potential to transform society and he states,

“My objects are to be seen as stimulants for the transformation of the idea of sculpture… or of art in general. They should provoke thoughts about what sculpture can be and how the concept of sculpting can be extended to the invisible materials used by everyone.
THINKING FORMS - how we mould our thoughts or
SPOKEN FORMS - how we shape our thoughts into words or
SOCIAL SCULPTURE - how we mould and shape the world in which we live:

Just as Beuys, Hirschhorn is able to make art politically and inspire people by displaying energy and utilizing the resources accessible and surrounds audience’s common lives. With his assertion, he states, “I do not want to invite or oblige viewers to become interactive with what I do; I do not want to activate the public. I want to give myself, to engage myself to such a degree that viewers confronted with the work can take part and become involved, but not as actors.”[4] By displaying energy, Hirschhorn allows the views to participate according to their own will and to choose individually how to take part, creating energy for a positive way of thought and action in the world.
Working with this idea of energy as he states “ENERGY = YES!, QUALITY = NO!”[5] the time ‘worked’ by writing out the past Toledo slogan “To work is to Pray” and drawings of the dress patterns utilized within the class installation, was recorded displaying the energy put forth including the change or correction of the slogan from, “To Work is to Pray” to “To Work is to Play.” By becoming the ‘active will’ that worked and played the energy of working and playing with the slogan of “to work is to pray” was displayed. Through a created structure of “work,” on a large graph paper, using charcoal, the slogan, “To work is to Pray” was wrote out and images of the dress patterns sketched continuously for a given time before all of the ‘work’ was re-worked with the energy to change and correct the past Toledo slogan to “To Work is to Play,” Playing with the ideas of Beuys and Hirshhorn, creating a homage to changing the way we think to incorporate importance of play for human evolution and working with the department store space. Also, including Beuys belief of art as the only thing that “could provide a space of ‘playful activity’ free of the means-ends relationship of capitalism”[6] and displaying energy with conjunction of work and play in the very place of manifested chapel for capitalism.

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