Fact Liverpool: Real Work Two Exhibitions – Alice Lenkiewicz

Liz Magic Laser, In Real Life (2019). Installation view at FACT, (c) Rob Battersby.jpg

Liz Magic Laser has created an exhibition on the ground floor of Fact Liverpool as part of Real Work. This is an absorbing show about people working in unrecognised freelance jobs and how their quality of life and business can be improved through certain goals and techniques through advice from a life coach and a psychic. It draws you in and does provide some food for thought. There was a sense of packaging to one’s overall lifestyle as if one can achieve their dreams and ambitions after having gone through this programme with the life coach. It was manageable and I suppose useful and the workers did seem less stressed and more focused after the programme.

Goal number one is to stop being such a workaholic and eventually to become financially stable and secure

Each person is given a 30-day challenge and a bio-hack. They learn to upgrade themselves with expert guidance and psychic help to self-improvement for success. The workers are Alabi, Cardy, Zahid, Kiki and Nikki all working in different freelance occupations, although slightly connected in various areas. The use of technology is its main dependency. The films discuss the work, their thoughts and direction, their struggles and also offers resources on ways in which to improve their lives and jobs.

I found this engaging mainly as our society puts people under pressure to work and the quality of life these days is not being questioned or observed in one’s workplace. Working has all become about earning a living whatever the cost of one’s wellbeing and happiness.

Different techniques were used for each to help them upgrade. Workers talk about their difficulties and personal growth. It is interesting to see the distractions and challenges that face people who are freelancers. One man expresses his frustrations of how he is continually distracted, goes onto internet sites, thinks about paying his bills. As his programme continues, he starts to relax and sees that his working life, although chaotic has improved. He has read more constructive articles, decided that his freelance work will continue but not through low paying websites.

These five reality stars go on a journey for self-improvement. A scriptwriter, graphic designer, voice-over artist, social media content creator and an animation artist speak about their experiences and progress with the life coach.

Nikki, the social media content creator, discovers freelance blogging and business without having to leave her room. She can’t afford to take enough breaks and this impacts on her life.

Goal number one is to stop being such a workaholic and eventually to become financially stable and secure. She also wants to become more calm and relaxed. On her first day, she works on her finances by improving time management. A psychic advisor brings the tarot into the digital age.
She picks a card and it’s the card of death. This indicates change and something in her life, which needs to close down.

On the first day, her first challenge is to improve her routine. She takes herself away from the office for a sunny walk. She makes the office into a pleasant room. Her next challenge is the vibration machine, which makes her legs stronger and improves her balance.

She revisits her work with more energy, with a huge amount of leads and realises she needs more time slots. On day 22 she hasn’t been paid by a client. It’s two months overdue and has impacted on her finances. During this time, she finds new ways of reaching out, such as retail at promotion events. On day 27 she took four days off. She has organised her life for the better. She looks after herself first.

On the last day, the life coach asks her how did it go?
The main thing she learned was the importance of regular breaks and making time for exercise. This has given her time to decide what she wants in her future. She will pursue her goals and achieve this dream.

This exhibition highlights the idea of choosing work that sets you free. How do we fit in friends and family, fun and leisure, become successful and reach our financial goals without being exploited or overworking ourselves?
The exhibition shows how these people optimise their lives and self-improvement.

Each worker has a different experience for their situation.
And so it continues as each worker describes how they feel in their freelancing work, what can be improved and then the results of the 30-day life hack programme, the positive embracement of new skills and approaches to improve one’s working life.

I did find myself questioning whether this is art? It could so easily be construed as reality TV, a documentary for self-improvement where contestants have to fulfil specific challenges to progress and improve their prospects. I was a little unsure on how to relate to the overall piece as art, but it’s good to be confronted with these thoughts and questions.

Goal number one is to stop being such a workaholic and eventually to become financially stable and secure
Goal number one is to stop being such a workaholic and eventually to become financially stable and secure Fact Liverpool Real Work

Continue upstairs for the exhibition by Candice Breitz titled ‘Sweat’ 2018.

This is completely different. It is about workers only this time; it’s about workers in the sex industry.
“Candice collaborates with ten members of a community of Cape Town-based sex workers, each of whom offers a series of anecdotes and insights into their lives and labour. All ten workers are activists affiliated with SWEAT the sex workers education and advocacy taskforce…

The exhibition portrays a cacophony of voices addressing the rampant racist and gender-based violence that sex workers face on a daily basis as well as the lack of legal protections within the sex work industry, insisting on the necessity of extending human rights and labour rights to sex workers. The voices are taken from statements often tweets long that each person states from a series of extended interviews.”

Now it’s up to the viewer to listen to what they say. You may find this problematic. The cacophony at first is confusing. You walk in and are faced with many mouths, all speaking. I decided to walk closer and listen to each person individually, but it’s difficult to catch everything they say and part of you feels as if you don’t have a right to know. This is an interesting dichotomy. It is very much a situation where you want to know. But do we usually get answers? It is fascinating and indicative of just how much these workers are generally not heard. You may catch a few sentences.

The first person says they see themselves in a bigger picture. He decided to become a voice for sex workers to take away the fear.

The second person says she is here to tell a tale that is not all good; she started on the street and likes to be her own boss. She likes getting older and the other workers see her as a mother figure. She feels young and gives her clients advice. She will go on for as long as she wants.

The third person says not to judge other people’s work; she has her future and dreams.

The next person tells us it is a sick world, but you don’t have to be a victim. She got into sex work at the age of 45 after her divorce. She says she is a lady, not a slutty woman.

The next person says her clients are old and scared.

Another person talks about colonisation, slavery and sex work.

The next person says sex work does not always involve sex work. Her sexual liberation took her out of poverty. “I’m who I am. I choose to do this.”
When you step back and look at the exhibition overall, you are faced with many individuals, but the overall installation describes how voices are lost in judgment of people in the sex industry. Each voice tells a different story.

You can’t stay for too long because the amount of noise and voices is quite overwhelming. I couldn’t hear every word, but overall, it seemed the sex workers seemed empowered and content with their lives.

Fact has brought together two thought-provoking exhibitions about people who work in different occupations that are often not taken seriously and that quite often subject their workers to bad treatment or unfulfilling lives; freelance work and the sex industry. However, the workers show that they can overcome these difficulties and in many cases, they reach self-empowerment and also success.

Review by Alice Lenkiewicz Photos Courtest Fact Liverpool

Real Work is on from 12 July – 6 October 2019.

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