3-channel video installation, 2019
HD video, sound, color, 20'30″


Directed by Beto Shwafaty
Editing Patrik Thomas
Music Thingamajicks
Narration Samuel Fischer-Glaser


Archival film material from the Archivio Storico Nazzionale Cinema Impresa (Italy)
Commissioned by the project Beyond Archive (production by CareOf, Milan), with the support of the ORA!


Focusing on the theme of the “transformation of work,” Beto Shwafaty's new video takes as its starting point the comparison of conflicting aspects of historical and cinematic material collected by the Archivio Nazionale Cinema Impresa (Italy): the promises of modernism and industrial modernization related to improvements in life, and the consequent failures and transformations of these promises when scientific and automated devices question the presence of human beings in the workplace. What are the impacts of these transformations on workers' bodies, subjectivity, and social lives? What are the transformations in terms of community life and productive activities for human beings, for care practices and what is being called the new care economy? The end of work develops as a hybrid production, situated between the filmic essay and the video collage. In it, the fusion of these ideas with texts, narrations, archival material, and looped soundtracks sketch and articulate various atmospheres and readings on these subjects.


Narration different voices (1) (2) (3)
(Written text over images)
Script / Indication for editing *


– I can still smell the oil that ran through the machines. (1)
– We can remember the vivid noise of things moving over the concrete floors. (2)
– Do you miss to hear the vibration of electricity feeding everything? (3)
* Scenes of life in the factory, workers going to the factory, children being cared, People in line, line of work, of care, of production. Daily life cycle as a production cycle.

(After the Great World War a new society had to emerge. One based on new principles and values that should prevent authoritarian forces to rise again.)
(Scientific organisation of work based on humanitarian and cultural dimensions, aimed to form new federative units was imagined as an answer.)
(Scientific organisation of work allied to modern culture and social care brought a new life into small cities, while preserving its green areas and calm life… far from the overcrowded metropolis and the isolation lifestyle they imposes.)
– If we see a factory as a common good rather than something of private interest, then property transfers, regulatory plans, bold social experiments can be justified. (2)
– But to achieve this we have to make the factory and its surroundings economically supportive. Then, the idea of a humane and socio-cultural community may emerge. (1)
– And the economy we imagine will contribute to the material progress, while it will accompanies the subjects in the development of their personality and vocation. (2)
* Social life in contrast to the factory life, merging of social and working aspects of life, modern promises of better reality, trust on a scientifically organisation of reality All aspects of life are implicated in this new communitarian economy. Imaterial economy takes the form of abstract relations, leisure, production, attention, care, affection
But as time passed, capital also changed towards other areas of life… over our affections, the act of care, on social experiences and human relations. (3)
Indeed, our desires had become the infrastructures of late and symbolic capital. And this form of capital has always an oblique relation to material resources which are generated by the labour undertaken over our bodies. (2)
(Abstract labor and immaterial economies became tied up by informational and sociocultural relations, as industrial production entangles towards cultural ones.)
(And even if new labor forces emerge, they are still intrinsically part of the commodity’s cycle.)

Instrumentum Mutum
* Change in the matrix of production, machine driven policies, precision and efficiency, human expenditure, we are obsolete
– I do not see any anxiety towards automation nowadays. I mean, it seems to not be notice. (1)
– Yeah, it is not a trend, everyone already embraced it. (3)
– I believe it is because, as we move towards progress, technologies handle the hard work with greater efficiency at lower costs. (1)
– It is because machines unite all other elements of labour process: from the raw materials to the procedures and the final product. (2)
– Machines are products too. (3)
* Speed and cycles of movement, hands and screws, details of bodies and metal parts, colors, material, image and propaganda
– They result from the summary of many multitudes, they are assemblages of different instruments of work… the living-active machinery. (2)
– They still do not feel or see… we may need them, but I still do not trust on them. (1)
– So What? We also can do, and almost all with our bare hands. (3)
* Movements in loop and rhythm continuum of fluxes
(Will machine erase exploitation?)
(We see the immovable mover.)
(Labour-power in itself.The perfect work force.)


The end of Work 
(The processes of freedom: cooperation, collaboration among us, with machines)
– Human economic usefulness has a certain type of political power, don’t you agree? (2)
– Do you still believe in that? (1)
– Yes. (2)
– Even if a high percentage of jobs are at risk of being replaced by the “computer automated capital”? (1)
– I do not know… (2)
– When material and physical systems are merging quickly with digital and biological ones How can we challenge the opportunities from this technological displacement? (1)
– We gonna need to figure that out. (3)
– I keep thinking about what will be the purpose of life without work… (1)
* Endless movement, loop, recurrent promises and dreams that are never fulfilled
(I do, therefore I am)
(All is work)
(Anything can be work)
(And what is not work, may be culture… Or art)
– I miss the feeling of friendship… that assurance that we had a common ground able to form new alliances, to foster coalitions. (1)
– I used to like the cultural activities after the work. (3)
– Our colleagues were our first allies… Will machines be too? (2)
– Only if they will bale to sing the song. (laughs) (3)
– I doubt that. (1)


Beyond the end of Work 
*Capitalism advancing over minds, bodies Education as the locus of a disciplinarian future
(To play is to produce. To interact is to produce.)
(To be is to produce)
– While in the past people dedicated their lives to work, today we are becoming the products of someone’s else work… Bare life becoming accountable, measurable, traceable, tradable. (2)
– Jobs may die, but work will always persist. The fact in play is what to do with an exponential amount of displaced subjects due the revolutions that are to come though automation, IA, and other digital revolutions.(3)
– I think we are in a dead end. (1)
– Does the answer will be to tax automation? To tax robots to protect workers? (2)
– Are you referring to the so called “Freedom dividend”? It will be just another empty promise of division of wealth… maybe a way to keep consumers consuming. (3)
– I think we will need soon to learn again what terms like “coalition” and “cooperation” means.
– This is a good question. (2)
(A universal basic income)
(Will it produce a global revolution in consciousness, or just keep the economic wheel running?)

(“ The machine that possesses skills and strength in place of the workers, is itself the virtuoso, with a soul of its own in the mechanical laws, acting through it; and it consumes coal, oil, etc (matieres instrumentals), just as the worker consumes food, to keep up its perpetual motion.” [Marx, Grundrisse, Notebook 7.] )
*Collectiveness and cooperation, the capture of subjectivity
(Hands are obsolete)
(The glitch of the machine, will be the glitch of our minds)


The lines above are indications, notations, ideas and provocations employed in the editing and selection of the archival material for the video installation “the end of work”. As a sort of script and loose essay, the text was aimed to draw axis of ideas to be transformed in sequences of sound-music-image-text that not necessarily had to be materialised entirely or literally in the screens.


Operative Diagram


Between 1930 and 1960, the Italian company Olivetti achieved a unique symbiosis between art, industrial production and communication techniques to interfere, with inventiveness, in the fusion between economy, aesthetics and politics. From the industry, to urban planning to interior architecture and social services, from product design to advertising communication, the company and its employees succeeded in creating a new style, balanced with various techno-social spheres, always under a committment to human enhancement and social justice.
As an example of the way the factory could contribute to sociocultural progress, Olivetti employed many artists, writers, architects, engineers, psychologists (among others) to stimulate the production of various forms of expression and intelligence—as well as the evolution of ideas—in productions considered as anticipations of the future. Within a project for a new culture of factory, the company’s research lead to the production of new technological devices that employed the merging of different languages and disciplines, enabling a materialist process of communication informed by new political commitments between company and society. Its products and actions can be considered concrete evidence of modern developments in the (re) construction of postwar Italian society, and of the production of new subjectivities.Nevertheless, these innovations had an active role in the beginning of the dematerialization processes regarding sociocultural relations, which opened paths to the rise of Post-Fordist, cognitive and immaterial conditions of work, space and life. The diagram that follows is a partial mapping (and reinterpretation) I produced in 2012 /2013, organizing schematically some of the concepts, processes, and subjects that informed this historic techno-political and aesthetical endeavor.


Beto Shwafaty 2019/2020


Beto Shwafaty Artist and researcher whose practice entails installations, videos and sculptural objects. Using a diverse array of materials and methodologies, such as curatorial thinking, institutional strategies, criticism and archival research, his projects are informed by the notions of appropriation, dislocations and translation, generating works that are developed over extended periods of time. In his practice, he often focuses on the way historical episodes can leave traces on culture and be echoed in objects, spaces and sociocultural structures, which by consequence produce publicly shared meanings and behaviours. In this sense, he has been interested in subjects linked to history, sociopolitics, architecture and design, assuming these as narrative elements and evidences that may inform us on diverse aspects our present time. Beto's work is represented by Luisa Strina Gallery, Sao Paolo and Galleria Prometeo, Milano.