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Interview 30. august 2005
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Interview: Clare Strand
Hans Henrik Jacobsen has interviewed Clare Strand in connection with her exhibition at Senko Studio in Viborg. Her aim with the exhibition "The Betterment Room ­ Devices For Measuring Achievement 2005", was to explore the post industrial worker of today.

Text: Hans Henrik Jacobsen
Photo: Sergei Sviatchenko

The exhibition "The Betterment Room - Devices for Measuring Achievement" is shown from 13. august - 4. september 2005.
Click here for Danish version
Hans Henrik: Sergei Sviatchenko often uses the Internet to make contacts with artists all over the world. What were your reactions to this kind of communication?
Clare: I think Sergei operates a system of communication that is totally appropriate for today's climate. It is clear that he is 100% organised and open to new ideas and methods of working. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the flexible and relaxed yet professional approach that Senko studio takes ­ it makes a welcomed change.
Hans Henrik: Please tell what made you decide to exhibit in Senko Studio in Viborg and how you got in contact with Sergei Sviatchenko?
Clare: I met briefly with Sergei whilst exhibiting at Galleri Image, Aarhus in 2000.
Hans Henrik: How did you get the idea to start the project “The Betterment Room”?
Clare: The Betterment Room ­ Devices For measuring Achievement grew as a fellowship from The University of Sunderland International Photography Research Network(IPRN) and The Arts Council. The philosophy of the IPRN programme is to "simulate the production of new photographic work, dealing with social-historical issues, fuelled and contextualised by academic research". The 2004/5 programme was built around the theme of "Work". I took as starting point the pioneering time ­ and ­ motion, American husband and wife team, the Gilbreths. The Gilbreths were the first to use photography and the moving image to analyze and "better" a workers performance. Lillian and Frank Gilbreth constructed a laboratory called, The Betterment Room . Here, a manual worker would perform a task whilst speed and efficiency was photographically recorded by observing the trails and trajectories of small electrical lights attached to the workers extremities ­ these abstract light traces were named, Cyclegraphs.
My aim with The Betterment Room ­ Devices For Measuring Achievement 2005, was to explore the post industrial worker of today, questioning what can be learnt using Gilbrethian methodology today. My point is that in Western service society "work" has become far more mysterious ­ I am constantly curious as to what people actually do. "Work" has become more ambiguous and, in my view less, quantifiable. My Betterment room subjects are all dressed up to be motioned studied but have no where to go
Senko Studio set fra gaden   Clare Strand på Senko Studio
Hans Henrik: Try to explain the connection between the photos and the Cyclegraph series.
Clare: As mentioned The Betterment Room ­ Devices For Measuring Achievement was the result of a fellowship/residency. My residency was hosted in Essen, Germany by The Folkwang Museum. Commissions and residencies can be, at times, a strange process where parameters and expectations can again be ambiguous and un- quantifiable. The Cyclegraph series is an attempt to measure my own practice and success whilst carrying out the residency.
Hans Henrik: The persons in the photos seem sad and frustrated. Why did you choose to put the persons into these positions/situations?
Clare: I hadn't been aware that they look sad but if they do then they must be. The Gilbreths emphasised the objective quality of the camera ­ although they promoted their studies as "humanistic" ­ they were essentially reducing human beings to a unit of activity and consumption. All subjects are positioned and situated in consistence with the Gilbreth photographic archives, they are there to be objectively studied , not considered for their mood.
Hans Henrik: What is the connection between Essen as a city today and ”The Betterment Room”?
Clare: The work was made whilst in Germany but essentially it is a general comment on all western service economies. In Germany it is clear, as in the North of England, to see the downturn of industry. The Betterment Room ­ Devices For Measuring Achievement 2005 is a general comment on how the workforce has change in the last 30 years..
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