"Mondays" is a series of events that aims to casually discuss topics related to contemporary art.

The invention of mechanical clock was one of the major advances in our civilization which is at once a sign of new found creativity and a catalyst in the use of knowledge for wealth and power. Capitalism was in part built on increasing output by increasing labor time. The right to work as an expression of individual freedom, propagated by Industrial Revolution, had produced workers' overproduction and created a small circle of unbusy rich. What made workers give up their leisure time? With more pressure on wages and job opportunities and the increased access to consumer (and leisure) goods, capitalism has increased the pressure to work more hours. Busyness was a doctrine of modern capitalism. Busyness has also systematically erased our political subjectivities and made life become only a matter of economical struggle, which prevents us from self-discovery of authentic needs such as intellectual and spiritual enjoyment.

In an advanced capitalist country such as Japan, hard work is overseen as a respectful culture but it seems there is a different between hard work and working for a long hour. General social pressure and job insecurity after the bubble economy has made a lot of Japanese people working overtime without pay. Japanese working environment has brought high amount of stress and increased the number of suicide cases.

In this discussion, Yoshitaka Mori will share his research on the recent development of "the Japanese freeter generation" which increased in early 1990 as a critical response to the collapse of bubble economy and refusal to work in an old Japanese working environment. He will elaborate the relation between working time and leisure time, critically asses the un/privileged position of artists in society, where many Japanese artists become workers and an integral part of labour forces, often as freeter.

The inability to posses leisure time also reduce the possibility of meaningful human interaction which whether direct or indirectly has changed the demography into an inverted pyramid with a rapidly aging society and a slowing birthrate. With the demographic change and the refusal of well educated Japanese youth to perform unskilled labor, Japan's economy is also rising its demand for unskilled foreign labor (mainly from Southeast Asia and Latin America). Brigitta Isabella will share insights on the life of Indonesian migrant workers in Japan and compare it with the condition of work for migrant workers in Hong Kong. With the condition of global migration, the problem of labor in Japan is considered as a shared-transnational problem. Coming from background of a recent project by KUNCI Cultural Studies Center with Para Site gallery, Hong Kong, she will discuss foreign labor issues from a cultural perspective, tweaking some ideas brought by Jacques Ranciere in The Proletarian Nights and posing questions on the necessity of reclaiming leisure time for workers. Joining the discussion will also be Jong Pairez, a media artist based in Manila and Tokyo, who considers himself as a foreign migrant worker. Jong will discuss his practice and the current development of #Atworkresearch, a project in which he explores the notion of immaterial labor and the inter-relation between work and play as a form of refusal of work.

18:30-21:00, Monday, 23 November, 2015
3-1-8 Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103-0004, Japan [map]

Presenter: Brigitta Isabella (researcher), Jong Pairez (artist / migrant worker), Yoshitaka Mouri (Associate Professor of Media Department of Musical Creativity and the Environment Tokyo University of the Arts / Sociologist)

Admission: Free
Language: English

In collaboration with dislocate

Brigitta Isabella (b.1989) graduated from the department of Philosophy at Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta in 2012 and continued her studies in Critical Methodologies at King’s College, London. Since 2011, she works in KUNCI Cultural Studies Center, a research collective based in Yogyakarta. In October 2014, she participated in 89plus x Google Cultural Institute 2-months-residency program in Paris and currently taking part in Ambitious Alignments: New Art Histories from Southeast Asia, a one-year research grant funded through the Getty Foundation’s Connecting Art Histories initiative. She is also a part of editorial collective in Southeast of Now: Directions in Contemporary and Modern Art journal. KUNCI Cultural Studies Center inhabits a precarious position of belonging to neither this nor that within existing disciplinary boundaries while aiming at expanding them. The collective’s membership is open and voluntary, and is so far based on an affinity to creative experimentation and speculative inquiry with focus on intersections between theory and practice. Since its founding in 1999 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, KUNCI has been deeply preoccupied with critical knowledge production and sharing through means of media publication, cross-disciplinary encounter, research-action, artistic intervention and vernacular education within and across community spaces.

Jong Pairez (b.1978 Philippines) is a media artist based between Manila and Tokyo. He is the founder of Civilisation Laboratory (CIV:LAB), a tactical space dedicated to research and design of sustainable and alternative living, a site to engage civilisation and find ways to survive through shared experiences of man-made and eco disasters. He is interested in understanding topics on Migration, Displacement, Geography and Cross-cultural boundaries. His works uses digital and analog technologies that deals with logic and irrationality of space. Pairez has produced short digital video documentaries and 8mm film productions that tries to simulate the environment where sound and images are crucial in re-creating imposed Geographies. Since coming to Tokyo he also now categorically considers himself as a foreign migrant worker in the lost decade generation.

Yoshitaka Mouri is associate professor of sociology and cultural studies at Tokyo University of the Arts. His research interests are postmodern culture, media, art, the city and transnationalism. His publications include a book Storiito no Shiso (The Philosophy in the Streets) and Bunka= Seiji (Culture=Politics). He also published several English essays including, Culture=Politics: The Emergence of New Cultural Forms of Protest in the age of Freeter’ (Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, vol.6 No.1, Routledge, 2005) and 'Subcultural Unconsciousness in Japan: the War and Japanese Contemporary Artists' (Popular Culture, Globalization and Japan, M. Allen and R. Sakamoto eds, Routledge 2006: London) and New Collectivism, Participation and Politics after the East Japan Great Earthquake, (World Art, vol.5 issue 2, Routledge: London, pp.167-186). Since 2006, he has worked as one of the directors of NPO, Art Institute Kitakyushu (AIK).