Kai Kaljo, The More I Work the Poorer I Am, 2006
Kai Kaljo, The More I Work the Poorer I Am, 2006
Kai Kaljo, The More I Work the Poorer I Am, 2006

Kai Kaljo

“The More I Work the Poorer I Am”, 2006

photo installation, 25 photos, 36 x 27 cm

Kai Kaljos’s photo installation concentrates on the working life of the artist, surfacing the paradox of an artist giving away money rather than bringing it in while working, thus questioning the well-known phrase “Time is money”. The work was first shown at Sexy Mythos, an exhibition held at Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst. The piece features random images from five workdays in the life of an artist, bringing in a total loss of 246 euros. The photos were taken between November 2005 and Februray 2006, with the help from graphic designer Tiina Sildre who added the texts.

Similarly to Marge Monko’s I don’t eat flowers, a new release of Kai Kaljo’s photo installation was produced in the beginning of 2011 to be used in the set design for EKKM’s Theoryclub studio. The Theoryclub was focused on the issues of artists’ working conditions and fees, so Kaljo’s installation spoke volumes in that context. EKKM  aquired the work for 246 euros that had been earned in EKKM’s bar, taking the artist back to a zero.

Kai Kaljo: “The photo installation “The More I Work the Poorer I Get” was the result of a conversation. Me and Julia Schäfer, a German curator, were discussing the living and working conditions of artists and financing possibilities and just for laughs I explained a discovery of mine: It is mostly conceived that more work equals more money, however as for the artist, he doesn’t just “make nothing”, but ends up loosing more and more with every hour of work, as he has to spend money on the work.” It actually came as quite a surprise to me that no-one had thought of that, but as Julia and some other curators were planning Sexy Mythos, an exhibition focusing on the working life of the artist and surrounding myths in Berlin’s NGBK (Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, Oranienstr. 25, Berlin), she asked me to somehow “formalize” this idea and I decided to convey this paradoxical situation in so-called diary format, to make it extra clear. I am almost sure this piece would never have been, had it not been for that conversation.”

“I have been asked whether this is an actual consecutive week in my life (five days actually, as one doesn’t work on weekends). That is not 100% true – all individual days however are so to say “real”, I just crammed them into a single week for clarity. Of course there is a certain amount of artistic exaggeration, as I did not factor in grants received from cultural endowment or proceeds from selling my work, as these are things that do not rely on the artist. Also cultural endowment and others don’t provide money for living costs, but rather to cut these losses we have been talking about.”