Oliver Walker
One Euro


Aksioma | Project Space
Komenskega 18, Ljubljana

8 June – 1 July 2016
Opening hours: TUE-FRI 12 pm – 6 pm

Exhibition opening and Artist Talk: WED, 8 June 2016 at 8 pm


The value of work has always been subject to huge disparities. For a period in the mid twentieth century leftist parties and labour unions tried - and partially succeeded, at least in Western countries - to reduce these disparities. But during the last three decades, with globalization, the information revolution and the emergence of the post-fordist model of work, have become greater and greater again. Legal and illegal immigration from poorer countries provided cheap labour for agriculture and industries; while the competition from developing countries brought companies to produce cheaper commodities, and to reduce the wages of the workers, hire occasional workers, outsource production to developing countries. Youth unemployment is rising, and if the eight-hour day still survives in certain fields and for certain generations of workers, it has become a mirage for many young people. As it was stated in the concept of the exhibition Time & Motion: Redefining Working Life (FACT, Liverpool, December 2013 - March 2014), “amid the new realities of a globalised experience economy and a working environment that is increasingly distributed, virtualised and digital, our definitions of production and consumption, work and recreation are becoming increasingly blurred.”

Featured in this pertinent exhibition, One Euro by Oliver Walker is a six channel video installation, with each channel depicting one person working. Each video lasts as long as it takes the person depicted to earn one euro. The films vary in length from well over an hour for low paid agricultural workers; to their slightly higher paid counterparts in industry; via those on middle income wages; down to one minute, and with one film little over a second long.
The films do not offer a narrative, but rather quite detached observations of people at work. It is not intended as a didactic essay on wage inequality. While it offers reflection on these staggering inequalities, and this political position is ultimately not left ambiguous, the relationship between labour and money is transformed into a more subjective medium – time. Periods of time are not as easily compared with one another as pieces of graphical information, for instance. With video, the timescale is embedded into the medium (unlike photography, or even text). Ultimately the people on the screens are simply taking part in their everyday lives, and we see six bodies on six screens, side by side.

In One Euro, time itself becomes an expressive medium, in a way that underlines its relationship with money and value, but also in a way that underlines the ambiguity of this value. The way the installation is designed, in fact, makes the richer people appear on screen for just a few minutes, or just a few seconds. While the agricultural worker is earning a euro, the screens of the people whose time is worth more is left blank. Their time may be expensive, but does it really belong to them? Are they still able to see any difference between working time and personal time? Do they still have free time?

Production of the exhibition:

Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2016

Artistic Director: Janez Janša
Producer: Marcela Okretič
Executive Producer: Sonja Grdina
Assistant: Katra Petriček
Public Relations: Urša Purkart
Technician: Valter Udovičić

Thanks to: UGM / Maribor Art Gallery

Supported by: the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana.

Aksioma | Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana

Oliver Walker
Photo: Oliver Walker

Oliver Walker (Liverpool, 1980) uses live art, interventions and new media to investigate social and political systems; and to find his position in and to these larger systems.
Ideas feed into his practise from everyday life, from an attempt to be politically aware and critical. He tends to take on rather ambitious subjects, such as global trade, democracy, and even love. Criticism, humour and innovation are then used to analyse and partly re-configure them; such as outsourcing the production of a written constitution for the UK to China (Mr Democracy, 2008), or using the price of an African financial index to control everyday objects in a western city in real-time (Bringing the Market Home, 2009).

Oliver Walker studied Fine Art BA(Hons) in Bristol, 2004, and Art in Context MA at the UdK Berlin (Berlin University of the Arts), 2009. He is based in Berlin and Liverpool, UK.