A government-funded Swedish art project will pay you to do whatever you want

Written by Michelle LouSaeed Ahmed, CNN

A Swedish art project is offering the ultimate dream job for slackers: It will pay someone about $2,280 a month to do whatever their heart desires.

The successful candidate will be required to clock in and out every day at the new Korsvägen train station in Gothenburg, Sweden. Other than that, the position has no set responsibilities or duties.

The employee will have free rein to move around — and they won’t even need to stay in the station once they’ve checked in for work, as long as they return at the end of the day.

The idea, titled “Eternal Employment,” is the brainchild of Swedish art duo Simon Goldin and Jakob Senneby. The conceptual performance has been designed to offer political commentary and insight into the labor market.

“Eternal Employment” was a winning entry in the Chronotopia competition, which sought public art ideas for two new train stations in Gothenburg.

Construction work on Korsvägen station is expected to finish in 2026, which is also the anticipated start date for the “Eternal Employment” job. Applications will open in 2025.

The purpose of labor

The train station will offer a changing room for its new employee, and a clock used to check in and out of work.

The clock will be connected to fluorescent lights above the platform. These “working lights,” which will be designed to resemble archetypical office lights, will signal whenever the employee is “at work,” according to the artists’ proposal.

“Although almost invisible at first, over time ‘Eternal Employment’ has the potential to amass a rich history of rumors, jokes, news stories and other secondary mediation, making its way into the oral history of Gothenburg,” the proposal reads.

The project seeks to explore the role of labor at a time when growing numbers of people take on nontraditional jobs in a post-industrial society, the artists said.

Goldin and Senneby acknowledge that an employee without specific duties may become bored. But their proposal also suggests that the successful candidate may come up with their own creative projects or “simply embrace a state of perpetual leisure.”

“Eternal Employment not only offers a different understanding of work and the worker,” the proposal continues, “but questions the very notions of growth, productivity and progress which are at the core of modernity.”

“In the face of mass automation and artificial intelligence, the impending threat/promise is that we will all become productively superfluous,” the artists added. “We will all be ’employed at Korsvägen’, as it were.”

Commentary on inequality

The artists were inspired by economist Thomas Piketty, who argued that return on capital grows faster than average wage increases in developed countries. In effect, the rich get richer while the poor continue to struggle.

Goldin and Senneby said the project is financially feasible because we live in a society where “money pays better than work.” As such, the artists plan to set up a foundation to oversee the long-term investment of 6 million Swedish krona (about $633,000) — the sum of the prize money provided by the Public Art Agency Sweden and the Swedish Transport Administration as part of the competition.

Capital gains from the investment will fund the employee’s salary for at least 120 years, according to the artists’ estimates.

The pay, pension and holidays offered with the position match those of an average public sector employee, according to the proposal. If the money runs out, the employment would stop and the lights would never turn on again, it said.

“That would imply an historical shift in the relation between return on capital and wages,” the artists wrote. “A sustained period in which work pays better than money.”

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