The Work Office: WPA-inspired participatory performance art

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The Work Office in New York City is a participatory performance art installation inspired by the Works Progress Administration of the Great Depression. Over the summer, the two administrators of The Work Office -- Katarina Jerinic and Naomi Miller -- interviewed, hired, and assigned creative types to do various, er, odd jobs, like reinterpretng a newspaper photograph, start an American tradition that you'd like to be preserved, or giving a concert for your houseplant. A week's wage is $23.50 and the paychecks are distributed at public parties/openings. Jerinic and Miller are currently seeking funds via Kickstarter to re-open The Work Office again soon. The Work Office (Thanks, Miss Heather Sparks!)


  1. Familiarity with WPA and basic sense of humor/poetry is needed to read this work: B.S. steampunk chaser anyone?

    1. quite so, i read it as a bit lame. hipster-ironic is teh olds. anyways, even marie antoinette would have an etsy shop.

  2. when I was a little girl I wanted to work for the WPA, though the WPA was like 40 years dead when I was a little girl

  3. It’s a cool idea. If you called it a volunteer arts office, no one would blink, let alone dismiss the project out of hand. Some of the suggested assignments are fanciful, but others are serious like documenting sites in need of repair and cataloging WPA structures in New York City.

    It’s a clever way of calling attention to lack of support for the arts.

    It seems totally logical that the government would pay to employ a construction worker as part of the stimulus. Why not a graphic designer? The main goal of any stimulus is to keep people working and spending in their communities with the added bonus of getting some useful work out of them.

    In the WPA era, it seemed logical to pay people to paint murals, design posters, and take on other creative work. For whatever reason, we’ve stopped thinking about creative work as work, at least for the purposes of stimulus jobs. It’s ironic because we supposedly live in a knowledge intensive economy where ideas are as important as bricks and mortar.

  4. Love me some alphabet soup. While conservative and liberal economists debate whether FDR’s programs got us out of the depression faster/slower — it always seemed we got more bang for our buck out of what we invested in — as oppossed to “must-need” military stuff we bought in the 80s …

    1. >”must-need” military stuff we bought in the 80s …

      hmm. dunno. the russkies couldn’t raise and so they folded without the world catching fire, and it got medum term oil price inflation under control.

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