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With: ARENA2036

© Frank Kleinbach

Stuttgart, ARENA2036

Nora Al-Badri & Nikolai Nelles: »Exercises in Idleness – Übungen im Müßiggang«

There is no shortage of gloomy robot scenarios – but what lies behind our fear of being controlled by machines? Isn't it actually the case that automation will free us from the drudgery of work so that we can focus on higher things? Based on Bertrand Russell's 1935 essay »In Praise of Idleness«, artistic duo Nora Al-Badri and Nikolai Nelles set out in search of new and unexpected perspectives on the future of work. How can we harness the positive potential of automation? What would a world without work look like?

The duo worked with staff at the ARENA2036 research campus for science and industry to conduct some »Exercises in Idleness«.

These thought experiments involved channelling each employee's specialist expertise into purposeless, pleasurable experiments. They then worked with the artists to transform them into artefacts. The resulting physical and virtual works of art were then on display, involving 3D prints, digital calculations and simulations, a VR installation, creative robotics and elegant mathematics.

The Artists

Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles have been working together since 2009. The German-Iraqi conceptual artist Al-Badri was born in Marburg in 1984 and studied political science in Frankfurt am Main. Nelles, born 1980 in Frankfurt am Main, studied art at the University of Art and Design in Offenbach. In their artistic practice they carry out interdisciplinary projects, ranging from media art to documentary films to political activism. Their work is often critical of society, and focuses on colonialism, identity politics and cultural heritage. Their projects have attracted international media attention, for example from the New York Times, BBC, Le Monde Afrique, Financial Times and Arte TV.

© Karim Ben Khalifa

The Partner



Pfaffenwaldring 19
70569 Stuttgart


5–28 October 2018

Cooperation Partner