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Slowly turning the first page of a book stolen from the museum gift shop, I read this quotation from Marina Vishmidt set in italics in the centre of the page: ‘Anything that is not work can be art’. The opportunity to fully consider the devastatingly appropriate nature of this short sentence is immediately withdrawn by my line manager rumbling to me sharply through my walkie-talkie earphone that ‘reading is not permitted while guarding the work.’

This series of distractions collates the sparse written fragments of a zero-hour contractor and associate lecturer seeking agency through the acts of writing and making. Initially it was written on a smart phone between 2013 and 2018, while the writer (the worker) worked zero-hour contract jobs in universities, museums, and art institutions in London. The nameless protagonist is only named by the many name badges he is obliged to wear. SPLIT is a tapestry of observations, fictions, and confabulations from inside the institutions sustaining, controlling, and propagating the flow of capital and culture through living bodies. Each fragment charts the deterioration of the worker through industrial action, toward illness, debt, and inevitable death.

‘Like with a game of Exquisite Corpse, the further you get into the narrative sequence the more its subject disassembles. Chopped up by standard ugly work relations at every art institution going, our Fraser/Zero hero temp ricochets between description and seismographic pathos. Do you, or I, remember the worldlessness of this constant scramble from your/my days on the circuit? Maybe reading this will feel like a sleep paralysis, like being precarised into literal pieces.’

–>Marina Vishmidt

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