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

It will pay someone about $2,280 a year to do whatever their heart desires.

The job only requires someone to clock in and out every day at the Korsvägen train station in Gothenberg, Sweden.

Other than that, the position has no set responsibilities or duties. The employee will have free range and won’t even have to stay in the train station.

The idea, titled “Eternal Employment,” is the brainchild of Swedish duo Simon Goldin and Jakob Senneby. The conceptual performance aims 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 Gothenberg’s transportation construction project.

The train station that will house the “Eternal Employment” is expected to finish construction in 2026, which is also the anticipated start date for the job. Applications will open in 2025.

What will it look like?

The train station will have a changing room for the employee and a time clock for the worker to check in and out.

The time clock will be connected to fluorescent lights above the train station platform. Designed to look like archetypical office lights, the “working lights” will illuminate to signal whenever the employee is “at work.”

“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 artists wrote in their proposal.

Examining the purpose of labor

The art project seeks to address the role of labor as more and more people take on nontraditional jobs in post-industrial society, the artists said.

Goldin and Senneby acknowledge that an employee without specifically assigned duties may become bored. Or they could invent creative projects. Maybe they will simply embrace a state of perpetual leisure.

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The artists say that’s the point of this conceptual performance.

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

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

It’s a commentary on economic inequality

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

Goldin and Senneby say 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 $634,000), the prize money provided by the Public Art Agency Sweden and the Swedish Transport Administration.

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 that come with the job match that 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.

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

Though the “working lights” would never glow again, the artists said they hope the discussion generated by the installation would continue.

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