The Value of Absence-Excuses to be absent from your workplace, 2010-2012

Video documentation / installation, DVD, color, stereo, 10’20’’ min

Dissatisfaction with low wages has generated an overall lack of motivation toward the socialist system in Cuba, many public servants come up with excuses to get off work. This attitude is made easier by the flexibility and tolerance demonstrated by State enterprises. 

 

The Value of Absence gives shape to this phenomenon. Taking advantage of this situation Melis contacted people who were willing to get paid for not going to work. From the safe distance a telephone call, the workers call their workplace and their conversations are recorded by the artist. Some absurd excuses include: “Need to visit the psychoanalyst”, "I don’t feel like working” and “I’m going to the beach with friends”. They are paid by the artist for the excuses and the value of the excuse depends on the amount of days they manage to get off work and equals the amount that is deduced from their salary as a result. Thus a group of people receive the same amount of money as they would have from the State in return for their absence. The boundaries between art and work become porous as the intention of the artist is to keep as many people out of work as possible. The better the artist is at persuading them to stay off work, the better it is for his own work. A total of 114 people have been absent from work, for a total of 327 days, for an approximate amount of $ 100. 

1- Installation view, group show at Mendes Wood, Sao Pablo, Brazil

2-Workers calling their workplace (documentation part of the installation)