Work, Rest, What We Will

We take things for granted. One such thing is the 8-hour working day, a frame of reference which was fought for, with one slogan that stood out the most:

"Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, and eight hours for what you will."

The limitation set for the 8-hour work day was born in stages:

1593 - in Spain, through a royal edict;

1918 - in Iran, through the printers union;

1919 - in Japan, at the Kawasaki Dockyards in Kobe;

1930 - in China, Baocheng Cotton Mill in the port city of Tianjin;

1924 - in Belgium;

1919 - in France, as a way to diminish communist support and avoid unemployment;

1884 - in Germany, at Degussa, a specialty chemicals company;

1883 - in the UK, for children. Adults never got a limitation per day, but week, at 48 hours for over 18s;

1867 - in the US, starting in Chicago;

1856 - in Australia, through the Stonemasons Society;

1919 - in Peru, via striking.

Where are we now, though, juggling as we seem to be in between the real and the virtually embedded, at times money-rich, time-poor, other times experiencing poverty all over? And how do artists stand on this, those defined as the ultimately flexible?

When does an artist’s workday start, and when does it end?

And can an artist strike to regulate their hours?

What sort of division of hours would they choose?

Would they ever choose to stop working?

[Visuals developed in collab. with Andreea Peterfi, technical support Jörn Nettingsmeier, and kindly supported by the Amsterdam Fonds voor de Kunst through a Development Grant, as well as by Stichting Stokroos]


Eight Cubic Meters is Rietveld Academie's permanent street gallery in the Sint Nicolaasstraat in the city centre of Amsterdam. Eight boxes, sixteen windows, open 24/7, 365.25 days a year. Every eight weeks a new show is on by Gerrit Rietveld Academie students and alumni. Eight Cubic Meters is a Buro Rietveld project.

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