40 Temps, 8 Days (2017)
Tate Modern
30 November - 10 December 2017

40 Temps, 8 Days is a durational performance work, which involves a daily rotation of 5 temps employed to do activities they would usually do in their spare time. These individuals were selected from a pool of incumbent temps on the books of Adecco, a multinational temp agency. Their paid work ranged from browsing the internet, listening to music, playing chess and video games.

Drawing on They Are Here’s own experience of temping and zero-hour contracts, the work emerges from a series of recent projects explicitly focusing on precarity and the impact of neoliberalism on our valuation of time; notably Precarity Centre (Grand Union, 2016 and Studio Voltaire 2017) and The People Behind The Financial System (Southbank Centre, 2016 and Konsthall C, 2017). In each of these works, we have instigated face-to-face encounters between individuals, who are unlikely to have met before, to communally explore different perspectives in a shared scenario.

Over the course of 40 Temps, 8 Days, They Are Here met each rotation of temps an hour before any contact with the public to contextualise the day’s work and listen to each other’s point of view, concerns and limits of comfort. Visitors were invited to reflect on their own notions of time and labour with the temps, while playing chess or video games for example. At the end of each day, They Are Here gathered with the temps to consider the afternoon’s interactions.

Running parallel to this work was a system that observed and communicated the time visitors spend in the Tate Exchange space. This has been developed by They Are Here in collaboration with software engineers from Imperial College: Abigail Howell, Alessio Incitti, Amelia Crowther, Andrew Hill, Priyanka Shah and Ria Jha.

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Documentation: Indre Neiberkaite