World of work, 13 September 2018

Bodies without Fatigue

Investigation by Camille Richert


Current social movements opposing work and employment conditions are not lacking “spectacularity”. But the panache of these collective protests cannot eclipse more subdued forms of opposition. Sleeping, dreaming, taking breaks or even playing constitute micro-resistances to the brutality of work, as certain artists have been showing us for several decades. Although the visibility of these revolts is negligible, this does not weaken their efficiency: on the contrary, they can be seen as the introduction of a kind of agency into the heart of a hard-working day-to-day life.

[ 1 ]

Maurizio Lazzarato, Marcel Duchamp et le refus du travail ; suivi de Misère de la sociologie, Paris, Les Prairies ordinaires, 2014.

[ 2 ]

Valerie Mainz and Griselda Pollock (eds.), Work and the Image II: Work in Modern Times, Aldershot, Ashgate Publishing, 2000.

[ 3 ]

David Smith, Voltron, 1962, Yvonne Rainer, Carriage Discreteness, 1966, and Stuart Brisley working at a factory on Hille Fellowship Poly Wheel in 1970, as part of the Artist Placement Group programme.

[ 4 ]

Lazzarato, Marcel Duchamp et le refus du travail, op. cit., p.9.

[ 5 ]

Henri-Pierre Roché, “Souvenirs sur Marcel Duchamp”, La Nouvelle Revue Française, June 1953.

[ 6 ]

Lazzarato, Marcel Duchamp et le refus du travail, op. cit. p.19.

[ 7 ]

Valerie Mainz and Griselda Pollock (eds.), Work and the Image II: Work in Modern Times, op. cit., p.1.

[ 8 ]

See the current state of research in these fields with the study day held in Paris in December 2017, entitled “Conflicts, Resistances and Tensions in the Worlds of Work”, organized by the ENS and the EHESS, as well as the International Sociology of Work Days on the theme “Work in Struggles: Resistances, Conflictualities and Collective Actions”, held at the CNAM in July 2018.

[ 9 ]

Jonathan Crary, 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep, London, Verso, 2013.

[ 10 ]

Georges Duby, Armand Wallon (ed.), Histoire de la France rurale, vol. III, Apogée et crise de la civilisation paysanne, 1789-1914, Le Seuil, 1976, p.326.

[ 11 ]

Linda Nochlin, “L’Image des femmes au travail (1978-1999)”, in Fabienne Dumont (ed.), La rébellion du Deuxième Sexe. L’histoire de l’art au crible des théories féministes anglo-américaines (1970-2000), Dijon, Les Presses du réel, 2011, p.207.

[ 12 ]

Edward Palmer Thompson, Temps, discipline du travail et capitalisme industriel, trans. I. Taudière, Paris, La Fabrique, 2004.

[ 13 ]

Sophie Calle, Les Dormeurs, Arles, Actes Sud, 2000.

[ 14 ]

Jean-Max Colard, “Les Dormeurs”, Les Inrockuptibles, 30 November 2000:

[ 15 ]

Crary, 24/7, op. cit., p.121-122.

[ 16 ]

Lazzarato, Marcel Duchamp and the Refusal of Work, semiotext(e), p.5.

[ 17 ]

Mladen Stilinović, a presentation of his pieces on work, undated,

[ 18 ]

Kasimir Malevitch, La paresse comme vérité effective de l’homme (1921), Paris, Allia, 1999, p.15, p.34.

[ 19 ]

Mladen Stilinović participated in his first group exhibition in 1977 on the occasion of the 10th Biennale de Paris. See his artist biography by his Paris gallery,

[ 20 ]

See Nicolas Feodoroff’s introduction on the occasion of a screening of the film at the FIDMarseille :

[ 21 ]

Florence Weber, Le Travail à-côté. Une ethnographie des perceptions, Paris, Éditions de l’EHESS, 2009.

[ 22 ]
[ 23 ]

See particularly Véronique Dalmasso and Stéphanie Jamet-Chavigny, Regards sur le sommeil, Paris, Le Manuscrit, 2015.

[ 24 ]

Giorgio Agamben, “What is the Act of Creation”, in The Fire and the Tale, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2017, p.41.

[ 25 ]

See William S. Smith, “Revolution and/or Sleep”, published in Triple Canopy, 16 May 2017:

[ 26 ]

Anson Rabinbach, The Human Motor. Energy, Fatigue and the Origins of Modernity, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1992, p.44.

[ 27 ]

Anne Dufourmantelle, Intelligence du rêve. Fantasmes, apparitions, inspiration, Paris, Payot & Rivages, 2012, p.20, p.166.

2 October 2017: the Nobel Prize in Medicine is awarded Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young. It recognizes the three American researchers’ work on circadian rhythms. This scientific term designates what is ordinarily referred to as the biological clock, or the daytime and night-time behaviour of the cells of living beings. Their…

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