The Art of Not Working: Ignacio Uriarte and the Experience of Administrative Work

  • Katy Lawn (Organiser)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


This paper tackles the work of Spanish-German artist Ignacio Uriarte, a contemporary artist whose work directly engages with the mundane, repetitious nature of office-based administrative labour. He works only in materials which are implicated in the material culture of office work: envelopes, bic pens, A4 paper, pencils and excel spreadsheets. Through a consideration of three of his pieces, this paper tackles the question of how Uriarte’s work (and by extension creative practice and the Arts more generally) can speak to key debates in work and organisation theory as well as emerging agendas in workplace geographies. Where Uriarte replicates work rhythms and work processes in an artistic context, he not only presents alternative ways of communicating the experience of boredom-at-work but also poses prescient questions about what it is that constitutes work when ‘office admin’ and ‘artistic labour’ look qualitatively almost identical.

Co-convenor of, and speaker at, a triple session at the Annual International Conference of the Royal Geographical Society in August 2017. Session title: Labour and Life: Changing Geographies of the Workplace
Period30 Aug 2017
Event typeOther


  • labour
  • life
  • work
  • art