Topic

emotional labour

Writings

A Going Concern

All money is laundered in some way.

Sometimes it is accidentally laundered when you forget to take your wallet out of your pants. But mostly this laundering of currency occurs through the mundane machinery of capitalism—through bodies and spaces and goods and services. The DNA of capital necessitates that it must cycle through and accumulate; be redirected and captured and released into an ever maddening twisted accumulation of cesspools in the arteries of those whose power mandates its extraction. But it always remains dirty. Currency is rarely clean. It always tainted with pathogens of previous lovers; it is never unsoiled. We are vibrating with its biome and it covers us all—we are merely conduits for its viral contagions.

Unlike the clean straightforward ways of the laundromat, and despite currencies apparent tangible hand-held form, capital is mostly speculative and derivative. Like art, economy is connected to form, but its values and formulas are subjective, intangible, and fictitious. We are, reluctant partners in grime. 

There’s something suspiciously wholesome about a laundromat (certainly nothing conventionally beautiful). And yet [….and yet.] There is something deceptive about the humble washing machine that makes it hide in plain sight. Is it the manner in which something dirty and experienced with life could be returned to its owner with a sweet smelling new lease on life; a fresh start, sans stains—a new you? The same threaded garment, now with micro particles of soil extracted, ready to start again. Each time, less innocent than before. 

It is this appearance of the laundromat that perhaps made it an appealing figure and front for the mafia. And speakeasies. 

Urban myths accumulate like dirty capital from the association of the mafia with money laundering which first emerged during prohibition. When the flow is interrupted, things find a way to go underground.

Where all irrigation begins and ends.

Recycling and recirculation. All economy is about flows, circulation and cycling. A diverting and channeling; an irrigating that, depending on design and purpose, inheres desire for control through its diversions and pooling and accumulations.

A tumour of undifferentiated cells. 

[And all economy is about fiction]

And the narratives contain and restrain, just as much as they remain unfettered and unimagined. Just look at where we are now. Not too long ago, a bottle was just a bottle. A container. But now, it’s a vessel for dreams, it’s the elixir of life, it’s a recycled dream that can lead to sustainable futures. It’s a personal water bottle that says a hydrated body is a good self-caring bottle of filtered water drawn from the springs of some indigenous water hole. A bottle that ignores how we destroy water catchment areas; a bottle that forgets waste production and colonisation. A bottle that says I am life, whilst destroying the life support system upon which its expression depends. A bottle that says anthropocene and high vis, pacific waste circle and bodies of contaminated tailings.

It is through the body as threshold, as porous transition point for liquids and liquidity, that the economy performs such miracles.

It’s a threshold of private/public – where the domestic labour and personal hygiene self maintenance crosses over to the non-private strange intimacy of the outside commercial trade. Like sex on premises. LOL. 

The laundromat as site for the circulation of currency has many useful applications.

Gendered labour – memories of my father’s search for his freshly washed jeans – the piles and piles of unearned clothing in baskets overflowing – the cleaning the domestic labour – {If my father ever did the washing, he might know where his jeans were}. 

Service economy – the contracting out of domestic work – the domestic workers overseas Filipino maids – Indonesian pembantu – migrant workers – ‘chinese cleaners’ – invisible fucking labour. 

So potentially this project takes the artisanal hand washed garment and turns it into yet another niche within a niche within a niche market – “hand washed by a starving artist”

The laundromat as front for an artist led operation to re-circulate money back into the artist economy – as an experimental business model that could be hijacked for other anti-capitalist purposes.

LET’S DO IT.

Projects

Walking To The Laundromat

[Audio Walk]

 

Life can sometimes feel like a long laundry list that you struggle to get through. *Sigh. If this is you, doing the laundry can be a great opportunity to refocus on your core strengths and build resilience into your day.

Walking to the Laundromat is an audio walk that combines mindfulness practice with doing the laundry in an attempt to explain the interconnections between service economy, emotional capital, and affective labour from the perspective of the artists exceptional labouring body.

EVENT#1: Sunday May 1, 2016 at Washingdone Laundromat (209 Enmore rd. Enmore)

BYO 1 bag of dirty laundry as this is required in the piece.

You will need to download the track onto a hand held device, from the website www.walkinglab.org and also have your own headphones to participate.

Listen to audio here: https://soundcloud.com/rebecca-conroy-1/walking-to-the-laundromat

————————————————————————————————————————————————-

[Walking to the Laundromat is an Audio Walk and Laundromat Service commissioned by Walking Lab. Concept and narrative by Rebecca Conroy, Sound design by Dan McHugh]

(Image credit:  Katie Weilbacher)

This walk is commissioned through Walking Lab by Performing Lines

Performing Lines: Innovations in walking and sensory research methodologies is an International research project with a goal to create a collaborative network and partnership between artists, arts organizations, activists, scholars and educators interested in walking, movement, and sensory knowledge.

http://walkinglab.org/

Projects

Currency

[Expanded exhibition and publication]

2018

An expanded curatorial platform and publication that stages provocations and propositions for how we might reimagine economy.

  1. The laundry as an instrument for keeping things clean, smooth and removed, and aligned with the invisible hand of the market and its relationship to money laundering and informal economies.
  2. The fe/male/trans body as washing machine – as a circulatory vascular system accumulating toxins and flushing, cleansing, passing through – as threshold, as change agent, as behind the scenes mess hall, as front of house box office hygienist
  3. The laundromat’s historical relationship with migrant populations, foreign bodies, immigrant and illegal labour, and the transmutations and porosity of unclean and dirty bodies.
  4. The rise of alternative currencies bit coin etc and its correlation with speculative finance capitalism and affective labour/creative labour.
  5. The emergence of the share­-economy and the commodification of neighbourhood and the phenomena of place­-making, urban renewal and artist led gentrification.
  6. The rise of the creative worker as the ultimate poster child for neoliberalism marked by its characteristic flexible, precarious, and ephemeral labour to produce intangible capital.
  7. The laundromat as a trojan vessel to mimic existing economic models in order to occupy from the inside out in a viral form, and following permaculture theory, to reintroduce a species that disrupts a toxic cycle and brings equilibrium to the ecosystem; to re-­absorb/re-cycle the surplus/excess.
  8. Exploration of the excess of economy, following philosopher Georges Bataille and to extend his philosophy of General Economy into a making of new “economy” that preferences useless or excessive labour and production.

This exhibition is in development.