A mound of wet concrete stuck with three shovels, casually abandoned by workers done for the day. The left-over concrete, surplus to whatever intended project, sets up. When it kicks off, the conglomerate mass fixes the shovels in place. The irreversible process of solidification, once it begins within an hour or so of mixing, renders the concrete useless for further construction purposes; its pourable matrix is only purposeful within the time-frame of its fluid state. This mutable feature of concrete gives it its terrific utility as a building material, but also means that waste is inevitable; the world is filled with concrete set before its time. Thus one range of purposes for the material inverts into another: the endless potential of the concrete mix becomes fixed in the moment of its set with the timeless obdurance of stone. But here, the felicitous conjunction of shovels and concrete suggests a new purpose for this cast-off. Literally inverted, it becomes a new table, a three-legged concrete stool, a table of work, from work. One form of labour turns over into another.
The 'work' of the artist, now fluidly conceptual in the privileging of ideation over the haptic, has allowed for the explosive pluralistic diversity of production in contemporary regimes of art. These 'new' modes of contracting-out and labour-division, ostensibly derived from motivations sympathetic to conceptual art, are in fact the rationalized production strategies of liberal capital, necessary to supply the new expansive world markets for art. Artists, who are now properly directors and executive producers, have completed the corporate dream of separating themselves as management from labour; they have achieved the aristocratic divide that drives the neo-conservative global economy, using the trans-national capital model. Eschewing mass-production for economies of scarcity, they control production such as the market will bear, as any luxury commodity is managed. Thus the critical hope for the emergence of an emancipated subject, which was one of the ambitions of progressive modernism, becomes its opposite: the compromised subject oblivious in their unfreedom to their self-administered conflation with routines of disempowerment.