The Future of Work

- A cultural exchange between Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Russia 2016-17.

Some members of the project have been engaged in a collaborative investigation of contemporary industrial practices and its impact on the lives of humans across the globe. The group has visited a variety of different work places in  various countries to get a better understanding how industrial practices and thinking shape our values and lives. They often collaborate with local artists as they travel and they have made public presentations in Europe and China in the last 3 years. Through an invitation to present their work within the framework of Vallastaden 17, they developed a network to go deeper into related questions in the Nordic and Russian context.

The development of digital technologies and the rising price of real estate in our city centres mean that the relationship between home and work is changing. In certain strata of society boundaries become more porous the two. Many find new and hybrid ways of supporting themselves. This happens in a time when the global workforce is gradually finding less satisfaction at work. Gallup  published a report in 2013 based on questionnaires carried out in 142 countries. It shows that 83% of the people employed feel disengaged at work. It means that the human resources that make up 4/5 of the adult population is carrying out tasks, rather than actively engaging in what they do. How can we make better use of human potential and at the same time make people’s lives more rewarding?

The project focuses on three connected questions:
- How are the boundaries between living space and working space changing, how does architecture and city planning respond to these changes?
- How can we make our daily life at work more rewarding?
- How can the young develop new ways to earn a living that makes them feel appreciated and engaged and how can culture support this process?

The network is particularly interested in historical perspectives on the relationship between home and work. The clear distinction between the two is a relatively modern invention and we want to investigate what can be learned from history. The network gives people involved in the cultural sphere the opportunity to develop partnerships and learn from each other.


The project takes its starting point in visual art. However it is still fundamentally interdisciplinary in nature and brings together a variety of expressions including architecture, history, philosophy and media studies. The project will be carried out in three interconnected sections that corresponds to three cities and representatives from all collaborating organisations will be present in all three sections:

The first meeting will take place in Stockholm in January 2017. It will offer the participants the opportunity to familiarize with each other, each other’s practice and the questions of the project. The seminar will focus on the historical and cultural roots of how we conceptualise work today. Together the group will investigate if the relationship to home and work has changed over time and how it is seen in other cultures. The second meeting will take place in Copenhagen in March 2017. The group will focus on technological developments and how they affect the conditions for work. Can we imagine work differently in the future and what possibilities does technology offer for the young? The third and final meeting will take place in Kirkenes in May 2017. The group will focus on the historical and cultural roots of how we think about the notion of home today. Together the group will investigate if the relationship to our home has changed over time and how it is seen in other cultures.

Each meeting will be rounded off with short public presentations that allow the art world and professionals who are engaged in challenging ideas about work to take part in the outcomes of each session. The public discussions also gives the participants an opportunity to gauge the validity of the results and their potential future impact.
The network will create a better understanding for the potential for the future of work and what can be done to make it more inspiring for the workforce and how humans can find a deeper meaning in their existence. Together the members will create a better historical understanding about how the home and the workplace are linked.

The network will offer dynamic input to Nordic cities that are rarely connected and offer them an important creative and critical input and offer new ideas about how the city and its social networks can function more dynamically in the future. Together the members will draw from artistic, historical and philosophical knowledge by dialoguing across generational, geographical and professional borders. The activities will pool resources and skills in order to develop initiatives that influence public opinion.

The members of the network will work together create the conceptual, theoretic and curatorial for work that will be shown publicly in conjunction with “Vallastaden 2017” which is a major international architectural expo that looks at the future of living and working. During this event a group of Nordic artists will live with families in Linköping during two weeks and together reflect on the problematics of the project. The project will also spread the acquired knowledge to a broad Nordic network of artists, decision makers and academics through Vallastaden 2017. In this process we will also create a better understanding for how art and culture can actively be a part of changing the social and physical fabric of the city.


Participating organisations:

Wooloo (Denmark), Pikene på broen (Norway), Linköpings universitet (Sweden) and Vallastaden 2017 (Sweden).