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Constanze Schmidt

Inventing Work

Art & Agency in Professional Orientation

In our society work as a measure of performance has permeated all spheres of life. In a changing working world the negative consequences of such requirements can reveal themselves in adults through insomnia or burnout. Even the young members of our exhaustion society’ experience these effects. Some of them already suffer from various types of stress at school and are overchallenged with their choice of further education. In this context students are faced with two challenges:

First of all, their efforts to achieve good marks and grades just to fulfil external and internalised requirements will not prepare them well for the working world. Since more than half professions necessary to society in the future do not yet exist, adolescents will foremost be required to have one ability – to invent jobs for themselves. Students are even less prepared for developing a critical attitude towards our neoliberal working society and to already take this into account while choosing their career. Some helpful impulses may come from the concepts of post- growth in which citizens take over the responsibility for a sustainable organization of paid and unpaid work/labour in our society.

I am interested in looking at ways of developing a vocational orientation by means of an artistic practice, thus reacting to the challenges mentioned above – a training for becoming a Working Citizen. In this context, I plan to initiate artistic practical internships, where – similar to seismographs – the pupils will theatrically explore different places of work. The students develop specific interventions and coachings for the working people by use of sounds, images, actions, movements, atmospheres.

Which kind of experiences do they wish someone for his / her work? What does the working place need? How would they like to work? What kind of new job do they invent for themselves?