The first article of the Italian constitution reads: “Italy is a democratic Republic founded on labor.” But what form of government could presume a social order not founded on labor? And what would this society look like? Italian artist Danilo Correale confronts these issues in his installation At Work’s End (all works 2017), his first solo show in New York.
In one room, the artist invites viewers to relax, close their eyes, and lie down on one of a set of chaise-lounge sculptures while listening to a record that plays the voice of a hypnotherapist (Reverie, On the Liberation from Work). On side A of the vinyl, titled “Deliverance,” the narrator guides us through a visualization exercise that illustrates a typical day in a post-work world, with no wake-up alarms or appointments. In the next room, bathed in a faint purple light, we take in the disc’s B side, called “Transition.” It is accompanied by a video that asks us to consider the idea of a universal basic income, which would allow people to focus on their own emotional and intellectual needs in a stress-free environment. Correale’s project represents an antidote to the obfuscation and atrophy of a world dominated by outmoded, populist rhetoric and a lack of objectivity. For a moment, he lets us inhabit a possible elsewhere, where we can redesign ourselves and go back, in a completely natural fashion, to being Homo ludens. We leave the exhibition with a state of mind that has reached our innermost depths—as if we had just come out of a dream that offered us a glimpse of a perfect freedom that, with each waking minute, slowly crumbles away.