Postmodern Times

Michael Mandiberg
Michael Mandiberg
Postmodern Times

7–10 January 2020

Opening screening
TUE, 7 Januar 2020 at 7 pm

Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana

* From 8-10 January the screenings will run arbitrarily during 12 PM-6 PM, or by appointment.

Part of the programme
Hyperemployment – Post-work, Online Labour and Automation

In Modern Times (1936), Charlie Chaplin’s iconic Little Tramp character struggles to survive in the modern, industrialised world. A factory worker employed on an assembly line, the Tramp is force-fed by a malfunctioning “feeding machine” and performs repetitive, alienating tasks, until he suffers a nervous breakdown, getting stuck within a machine and throwing the factory into chaos. The story follows as a picaresque adventure, with the Tramp going to hospital, then to jail, becoming a hero, doing other alienating jobs, going to jail again and, of course, falling in love. The film is a comment on the desperate employment and financial conditions many people faced during the Great Depression, conditions created, in Chaplin’s view, by the efficiencies of modern industrialisation.
Eighty years after Modern Times, US-based artist Michael Mandiberg started Postmodern Times (2016–18, 87’), a remake of Charlie Chaplin’s movie entirely outsourced to freelancers of the popular gig workers platform If Modern Times is a portrait of the Fordist organisation of work (the assembly line), Postmodern Times portrays the digital factory and the post-Fordist organisation of work, in which workers have no wage, and work (usually from home) on small, underpaid tasks for often unknown patrons. Mandiberg used the crowdsourcing labour platform to commission short clips from 182 digital freelancers living in over 25 countries, weaving them together with portions of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times to reimagine the “story of industry” for our digital age: Postmodern Times. Produced with the support of LACMA’s Art + Technology Lab, Postmodern Times also features a score that weaves together various interpretations of the original soundtrack, including a generic presentation of the MIDI data, passionate interpretations of the original score performed by musicians on, and traces of the original score and foley sounds to connect the sound back to the original score. The transformative remix produces a chaotic soundtrack that splinters into digital glitches, only to reassemble around key leitmotifs present in the original score, which itself is representative of the conditions of the work’s creation.

Although grounded on a strong, modernist linear narrative, the production process turns the movie into a typical postmodern object: chaotic, multilingual, polysemic. Each clip was produced by different workers, in different locations and different languages, with no control from the artist. The result is a fragmented and chaotic work that reflects the conditions of digital labour itself, portraying the digital workers’ lives through the traces left in their clips.


Michael Mandiberg is an interdisciplinary artist whose work crosses multiple forms and disciplines in order to trace the lines of political and symbolic power as it takes shape online. Mandiberg received an MFA from California Institute of the Arts and a BA from Brown University. Mandiberg’s projects have been presented at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); the New Museum, New York City; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Denny Dimin Gallery, Art-in-Buildings Financial District Project Space, New York City; Arizona State University Museum & Library, Tempe; and Transmediale, Berlin, amongst others. Mandiberg’s work has been written about widely, including in ArtforumArt in AmericaARTnewsthe New York Times, the New Yorker, and the Wall Street Journal.


Author: Michael Mandiberg

Production of the event:
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2020

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


Jaka Babnik

7 November 2019–19 January 2020
MGLC – International Centre for Graphic Arts, Ljubljana

Curated by: Domenico Quaranta
Artists: Danilo Correale, Elisa Giardina Papa, Sanela Jahić, Silvio Lorusso, Jonas Lund, Michael Mandiberg, Sebastian Schmieg, Guido Segni

Automate all the Things!
14–15 January 2020
The Academy of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Ljubljana
Moderna galerija

Speakers: Elisa Giardina Papa, Sanela Jahić, Silvio Lorusso, Michael Mandiberg, Domenico Quaranta, Sašo Sedlaček, Sebastian Schmieg

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