Work will set you free: The art of Santiago Grasso


(Illustration by Santiago Grasso)


A strange delusion possesses the working classes of the nations where capitalist civilization holds its sway. …This delusion is the love of work, pushed even to the exhaustion of the vital force of the individual and his progeny. … Work ought to be forbidden and not imposed.

Paul Lafargue, The Right to be Lazy


Now, this is what I want to ask you about – to wit, how you get people to work when there is no reward of labour, and especially how you get them to work strenuously?"

"But no reward of labour?" said Hammond, gravely. "The reward of labour is life. Is that not enough?"

"But no reward for especially good work," quoth I.

"Plenty of reward," said he – "the reward of creation. The wages which God gets, as people might have said time agone. If you are going to be paid for the pleasure of creation, which is what excellence in work means, the next thing we shall hear of will be a bill sent in for the begetting of children."

"Well, but," said I, "the man of the nineteenth century would say there is a natural desire towards the procreation of children, and a natural desire not to work."

"Yes, yes," said he, "I know the ancient platitude, – wholly untrue; indeed, to us quite meaningless. Fourier, whom all men laughed at, understood the matter better."

"Why is it meaningless to you?" said I.

He said: "Because it implies that all work is suffering, and we are so far from thinking that, that, as you may have noticed, whereas we are not short of wealth, there is a kind of fear growing up amongst us that we shall one day be short of work. It is a pleasure which we are afraid of losing, not a pain."

"Yes," said I, "I have noticed that, and I was going to ask you about that also. But in the meantime, what do you positively mean to assert about the pleasurableness of work amongst you?"

"This, that all work is now pleasureable; either because of the hope of gain in honour and wealth with which the work is done, which causes pleasurable habit, as in the case with what you may call mechanical work; and lastly (and most of our work is of this kind) because there is conscious sensuous pleasure in the work itself; it is done, that is, by artists."

"I see," said I. "Can you now tell me how you have come to this happy condition? For, to speak plainly, this change from the conditions of the older world seems to me far greater and more important than all the other changes you have told me about as to crime, politics, property, marriage."

"You are right there," said he. "Indeed, you may say rather that it is this change which makes all the others possible. What is the object of Revolution? Surely to make people happy. Revolution having brought its foredoomed change about, how can you prevent the counter-revolution from setting in except by making people happy? What! shall we expect peace and stability from unhappiness? The gathering of grapes from thorns and figs from thistles is a reasonable expectation compared with that! And happiness without happy daily work is impossible."

"Most obviously true," said I: for I thought the old boy was preaching a little. "But answer my question, as to how you gained this happiness."

"Briefly," said he, "by the absence of artificial coercion, and the freedom for every man to do what he can do best, joined to the knowledge of what productions of labour we really want.

William Morris, News from Nowhere


From Santiago Grasso, an argentinian animator and illustrator, a short animated film on the tyranny of labour, for which no commentary is necessary …


From an interview with Santiago Grasso, describing the work of animation (Grupokane) …

The labour and the creativity become are expressed in works that are not from here and that are very far from speaking about you, of your problems … You don’t touch a human place, but instead emulate a discourse that is in the end part of a macabre and effective political project.

What we proposed was to make artistic work, which does not have commercial ambitions … that says something and that does not emulate the discourse that seems to be repeated in all animated film that comes from Hollywood.

Animation is to sculpt in time.


For Grasso's websites and further examples of his work, see:

Opusbou, santiagograsso.blogspot

This entry was posted in Film, Poiesis and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.