Liverpool Biennial 2010: Touched Talk: Nina Power on The Wound of Work.

Philosophy Nina Power is amazing, and I use that adjective very specifically. Words spill out of her, but not just any words, but clever words, intelligent words, intimidating words and although as she might admit herself they’re not always coherent words, as I discovered tonight, to listen to one of her lectures is to find oneself at the epicentre of an intellectual tsunami, your brain sprouting its own metaphorical limbs in a vain attempt to keep afloat against the encroaching tide. It’s impossible to process everything. Often she’ll use phrases like “circuits of desire” but is so florid that her next thought is already forthcoming before the rest of us have even sensed or managed what we’ve just heard.  She's like verbal caffeine.

Lord knows what it's like to be one of her philosophy students at Roehampton University where she's a senior lecturer, especially if all of her seminars are this stimulating. In The Wound of Work, Power employed Herve Juvin and John Howe’s book The Coming of the Body and Melanie Gilligan's art film Popular Unrest (which looks like Flash Forward directed by Alain Resnais) to investigate how our own bodies have become the only element of value in the world and how in the post-Fordist society everything we do when we’re not sleeping has an element of work involved, with an assignable value. The boundaries between work and leisure no longer exist, the two are inextricably linked and that there's not now anything we can do about it.

During the inevitable Q&A I wondered if indeed, if that was the case, if rebellions against work in the form of strikes aren’t in and of themselves an important and productive part of the work process, a kind of system of checks and balances which stop a business from going to far in one direction, perhaps even to financial doom (noting as an example the single photograph in the Tehching Hsieh piece at FACT Liverpool where the artist breaks uniformity by throwing his hair in front of his face in one of the photos). In other words that strikes are a necessary way of increasing productivity. Power noted that the leaders by putting an end to solidarity and restricting the reasons why people can strike, reaffirmed the hierarchical structure.

Note I’ve just gussied up what I really said which was a stream of consciousness that stretched on for what might have been an eternity. At least at the end of Power’s lecture, when she’d made what she thought was the final point she said, “Ok, that’ll do” apologising that she didn’t have a better ending. This blog post doesn’t either really. Other than to say that when the Q&A strayed onto the topic of social networking it inadvertently led to a realisation for the person sitting my chair that, as the Wachowski brothers prophesied (and the people they borrowed from), we now live in a society were probably if someone disconnects from the web, they almost cease to exist. Is that why I’m still blogging after all these years?

Nina Power's book, One-Dimensional Woman is out now.

Update: Nina's talk has now been posted by the Biennial so you'll be able to hear me stutter through my question:

Touched Talks: Nina Power from Liverpool Biennial on Vimeo.

Isn't that remarkable? [via]

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