In 2025, an amazing vacancy will open at the Korswegen railway station in Gothenburg: they will hire a person whose only task will be marked at the beginning and end of each working day.
As soon as an employee arrives at work, a bright fluorescent work light illuminates on the platform, which goes out as he leaves. During the day itself, he / she can be engaged in any business, except for making money on the side, being in the “workplace” or outside it. It will be possible to occupy this position even all the life - the contract is unlimited. There are no requirements for the candidate. In the event of dismissal, another person will be appointed. Work involves paid vacation and retirement. At the disposal of the employee there will be a watch with a stamp, with the help of which it will be marked at work, and a changing room. The monthly salary is 21,600 SEK, or approximately 2,000 euros. On this, in fact, everything.
The project “Eternal Employment” was invented by Swedish artists Simon Goldin and Jacob Senneby, who explore financial, legal and social constructions using performative practices. One of their acclaimed Headless projects explored the semi-mythical world of the offshore business: the artists became the heroes of the novel “In Search of the Headless,” which intertwined an investigation into the activities of some Bahamian company Headless Ltd, a mysterious murder detective line, and ideas of Georges Bataille about acts of disappearance.
“Eternal employment,” in turn, is a kind of anti-performance, which, for all its comicity, raises important questions about the changing nature and nature of labor.
Sweden is a country with traditionally low unemployment and with strictly regulated labor laws. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 76% of the population have paid work and only one percent of them have to be seriously reworked (with an average of 67% and 13%, respectively). In addition, gender equality prevails in the labor sphere in Sweden: 78% of men and 75% of women are employed in the economy. Unemployment benefit is 80% of the salary, and a balanced pension system guarantees a comfortable old age even to those who have spent their whole lives on the same benefit.
But, according to Goldin + Senneby, the best days for workers remained in history. “We believe that the labor movement reached its political peak in the mid-1970s,” say the artists, “at that time the unions managed to achieve higher wages for workers, exceeding productivity in this or that industry. It was a short period when labor was paid better than the capital invested. ” The stability of the position of labor people was enshrined in the Employment Protection Act, introduced in 1974 - one of its provisions stated that the employer was obliged to transfer an employee, twice employed under a limited contract for five years, to an indefinite employment contract.
“Eternal employment” at Korswegen station with a stable salary, guaranteed vacations and pensions could be called a peculiar monument to this glorious times in our age, when temporary contracts, replaced by a specific project, replace permanent employment contracts. Sweden is no exception. “Prekarization has a very serious impact on the labor market,” says a participant in the Eternal Employment project, a sociologist Roland Paulsen, “we moved from a 2% unemployment rate typical of the“ golden era ”of the 1950s-1970s to a stable level in 7%, and the further, the more the work does not provide for permanent employment ".
But the paradox is that the fantastic vacancy at the Korswegen station appeared precisely because of the new economic realities. Coming up with his project, Goldin + Senneby was based on the thesis of the French economist Tom Piketty, which was formulated in his book Capital in the 21st Century. Piketty recalls that since ancient times, the return on capital has always exceeded the rate of economic growth. The period of 1930-1975 was a short historical anomaly, but soon everything was back to normal - investing money again became more profitable than working at a railway station, factory or mine. The Erik Penser Bank report on the financial viability of the Eternal Employment project claims that with an initial contribution of 6 million crowns of interest, 75% will be enough to not only start paying the “employee” salary, but also index it with an amendment on inflation.
Goldin + Senneby do not consider themselves entitled to respond to criticism, but remind that taxpayers' money would have been spent in any case - according to the rules in Sweden, the costs of public art projects should be 1% of the total budget of public buildings. Well, the fact that conceptual art is not so clear to an unprepared person as monumental, artists, of course, are not to blame.
A candidate will be selected by a specially created project fund. The artists promise that the procedure will be fair and transparent, but they do not answer the question of what criteria the candidate will take into account in the absence of any requirements to him. But the job description, made in the form of a poem, is ready: “You love Gothenburg. Of course, we too. And always loved. Everyone loves Gothenburg. Do we love korswegen? It is hard to say. Help us. Send resume. Unusually. We know. But this is work, absolutely ordinary work. Well, maybe not completely normal. ”
"Eternal vacancy" is designed for 120 years. If during this time the work becomes again more profitable than receiving interest from the capital, and the fund’s money is no longer enough for wages, the vacancy will be closed and the lights at the station will be extinguished forever. But the legends about the "dream work on Korswegen" will surely live for a long time.