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This was one of the first socio-political pieces, created whilst at art college. It concerns how one is valued in society. The majority of people work a standard day and what they can accomplish in that time reflects their net worth to society. Using manual labour as a quantifiable, physical example of my net worth, I spent 8 hours digging and filling in a trench.

It was a live performance which took all day, recorded in photos. The piece works on many levels. You can see literally what I am worth to you if you were to hire me for a manual task. On another level it demonstrates the futility of most people’s daily lives. In the end nothing was accomplished. The trench was filled in. I didn’t get paid. It was the ultimate pointless exercise. The only accomplishment was through my sweat and blood and blistered hands I made myself an instrument of my work, suffering to highlight an issue. My first go at art activism.

What it did was change me. I realised, through doing the task, the drudgery most people’s lives.

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There is a conceit attached to it though that I can’t escape. For me this was a choice. Young, white, male at art school – that is a situation rife with the visible and invisible privilege. It only did it for a day, not a lifetime. It showed me the difficulty of commenting on a situation from the outside looking in. It can be seen as naïve or even patronising. The truth is, though, we are all wage slaves in one way or another. There is an absurdist futility to much of what most of us do.

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