Winter Services on Display (One-Euro-Jobber)


A showcase full of curiosities: behind glass, an artist sits on a chair, doing nothing. He waits. As soon as a passer-by inserts a Euro into the coin machine, the artist in his closed room performs winter services. Artificial snowflakes are blown into the air, fly against the windows and fall to the ground. For a short while, the whole scenery becomes alive. The artist is surrounded by a cloud of concentrated artificiality. In the same instant in which it breaks the minimalist austerity of its surroundings, it dissolves again. No one can interfere with this scene. Putting more money in the slot is the only way for the viewer to influence how long the artist will work.

Victor Kégli and Filomeno Fusco’s room installation Winter Services on Display (One-Euro-Jobber) is mainly based on the interaction between sponsors and the artist. The actor in the cube is eternally dependent – on the viewers’ time, interest and willingness to pay. Every time the mechanism in the machine is activated, he has to begin his artificial and monotonous task again.

The first time the installation was shown was in the Red Stripe Gallery/Laden für Nichts in Leipzig in 2006. This was a time when the public debate about so-called One-Euro-Jobs was still prevalent. This employment measure was introduced in 2005 as a part of a broad reform of unemployment benefits with the aim of leading long-term unemployed persons back to the job market. Ever since, the media and academia have voiced their doubts about this aim. One reason is that many of these “bridge jobs” are mindless rather than useful.

However, Winter Service on Display should not be understood merely as symbolically saving an artist from starving. With their work, Fusco and Kégli ironically reflect on the relation between subject and object, society and outsiders, patrons and artists. A separation between “inside” and “outside” becomes visible that – ultimately – cannot be overcome. With her donation, the viewer indirectly participates in the winter service, but she cannot determine what exactly will happen, and she cannot actively interfere.

Comparisons with the miniature world of snow globes are hence obvious. With its contrast of movement and idleness as well as degradation and untouchability, the snowstorm in the cube resembles the small landscapes from the souvenir shops. With these hand-made toys, you can literally grasp a place, landscape, or visualized topic. After shaking the globe, the artificial snowflakes made of rice, confetti or polystyrene sink back on the ground of their closed-off world. What remains is the memory of a moment where the art-world and the external world meet, react to each other, and diverge again.

This dynamic is also present in Winter Services on Display. Thus the artist waits for his next performance – stuck between passivity and action, ignorance and attention, art and life.

An artist idly sits behind glass in a white cube and waits for occasional customers. As soon as a passer-by inserts a Euro into the coin machine, he begins to perform winter services behind this shop window.

The performance and room installation is based on the interaction between sponsors and the artist, i.e. the audience turns the artist into a One-Euro-Jobber. He is forced to react to the one Euro that determines when, and for how long, he has to work.

As long as the mechanism is triggered again and again, the One-Euro-Jobber has to fulfil his artificial task.