Performance Under Working Conditions


Dir. Allan Sekula, Video B/W Sound 00:20:00

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Originally produced as a companion piece to a photo novel about working in a pizza restaurant, this early video performance is rarely shown, even though its title was lifted for a 2003 retrospective of Sekula’s work at the Generali Foundation in Vienna.

The structure is that of live television, an empty studio with two cameras and a switcher, no editing after the fact. Two cooks try to reproduce the gestures and banter of their work minus the ingredients and utensils of the kitchen. This is labor performed as madcap talky pantomine, without capital. There’s a line here that goes back to the anarcho-syndicalism of Laurel and Hardy.
[Source: Los Angeles Filmforum Program Notes, 2008]