Imagine for a moment that you would never again be given any job to do throughout the course of your career. You have the option of sleeping, working on creative endeavors, watching movies, or reading books. In point of fact, the only thing that is required of you on a daily basis is to punch in and out on the appropriate time clocks.
You won't ever have to worry about finding another work since this employment is permanent and you'll always have it.
Because to a conceptual art project in Gothenburg, Sweden, financed by the Swedish government, this will become the daily reality for one fortunate worker (or one who is exceedingly bored) beginning in the year 2026.
The concerned worker will be required to report to Korsvagen, a train station that is currently under construction in the city, and will be paid a base salary of approximately $2320 (NZ$3430) per month. In addition, they will be eligible for annual wage increases, paid vacation, and a pension when they reach retirement age.
According to a report by Atlas Obscura, a draft of the help-wanted ad is currently accessible online. This is despite the fact that the artists responsible for the project won't begin accepting applicants until 2025, when the station will be closer to launching.
The job's criteria couldn't be more simple: Each morning, a worker reports to their shift at the railway station and begins punching the time clock. That, in turn, causes an additional bank of fluorescent lights to become illuminated above the platform, therefore letting passengers and commuters know that the employee, who would otherwise serve no purpose, is now working.
The employee comes back to punch out at the conclusion of the shift, at which point the lights are turned out.
Aside from working at another job that pays money, people are free to pursue whatever interests them in the meantime. They are in no way required to remain at the station for the whole day.
They are free to leave their jobs at any moment, whether it be to retire or seek employment elsewhere, but other than that, they are guaranteed to have a job for the rest of their lives.
There is no need for any particular credentials, and the artists who are supervising the project have told Atlas Obscura that anybody in the globe is eligible to submit.
According to the job description, "The position contains no duties or obligations other than that it should be carried out at Korsvagen," which is the only requirement for the job.
"The employee is responsible for their own job," which might be defined as "anything they want to do."
The initiative, which has been given the name Eternal Employment, is intended to be both a social experiment and a significant political statement.
At the beginning of 2017, the Swedish Transport Administration and the Public Art Agency Sweden announced that they would be hosting an international competition for artists who were interested in contributing to the design of the new station.
The prize for the victor would be 7 million Swedish krona, which is about $1.1 million New Zealand dollars.
The Swedish artists Simon Goldin and Jakob Senneby, whose earlier work was inspired by offshore finance, entered the room and proposed doing away with the conventional murals and sculptures that are often seen decorating most transportation terminals.
Instead, according to what they stated, they intended to put the prize money toward paying the wages of one employee while providing that employee with virtually nothing to do all day.
Their plan said, "In the face of widespread automation and artificial intelligence, the looming menace/promise is that we will all become constructively superfluous," and it expressed this with both a threat and a promise. As a matter of fact, we shall all be considered "employed at Korsvagen."
The two also referred to the idea of the French economist Thomas Piketty, who posits that the growth of accumulated wealth has historically occurred at a rate that is faster than the growth of workers' wages.
Piketty contends that this has led to a growing divide between those who are very wealthy and everyone else in the world.
Using the same calculation, Goldin and Senneby predicted that they would be able to continue paying that employee's salary for "eternity," which they defined as being equivalent to 120 years, if they established a foundation to shield the prize money from being subject to taxation and then invested it in the market. This would allow them to do so indefinitely.
The artists supported their assertions with a financial analysis from 2017 that was carried out by Erik Penser Bank in Sweden and which was included in their application.
The artists had suggested that the worker be paid 21,600 Swedish krona each month, which is about the same as New Zealand dollars 3387, or New Zealand dollars 40,644 annually.
The bankers came to the conclusion that there was a 75% chance that the prize money would earn sufficient interest from being invested in an equity fund to last for 120 years or more. This conclusion was reached after taking into account annual salary increases of 3.2%, which are consistent with what employees in Sweden's public sector receive.
According to what Goldin and Senneby stated, "in this way the artwork may operate as a gauge of our expanding inequality." [Citation needed]
The panel of judges that had been assembled for the purpose of selecting the winner of the competition came to the conclusion that the proposal should win because it was creative, clever, and "an aesthetic expression of exceptional quality."
Brian Kuan Wood, a board member for the Eternal Employment foundation, said in the art magazine e-flux that there was a "uproar" in Sweden in October when authorities revealed that Goldin and Senneby's idea had prevailed, with fury coming from lawmakers on both sides of the issue.
"Old Social Democrats accused them of using financial reality to ridicule the transcendental successes of the welfare state," he said. "They accused them of using financial realism to mock the accomplishments of the welfare state."
"Neoliberal progressives" criticized them for "spending taxpayers' money to stage a sentimental return to that same welfare state," as the phrase goes.
In the Swedish publication Dagens Samhalle, the member of parliament for Gothenburg's Moderate Party, Lars Hjalmered, referred to the conceptual artwork as "stupidity." Hjalmered is part of Sweden's center-right Moderate Party.
In their own writing, Goldin and Senneby clearly agree that it is useless and completely pointless to pay someone to show up at a railway station twice a day and punch a time clock. They say this is because the person will not accomplish anything useful by doing so.
That should make it clearer.
They point out that a lot of people have the misconception that art is intended to be pointless. They also believe that the worthless employment might lead to the invention of a new vocabulary that expresses indifference, indolence, and boredom, which is: You're working "as though you were at Korsvagen."