What can you do with ninety minutes? You can play a football match without stopping for a break at halftime. You can watch Leslie Nielsen in Airplane! with just enough time left over to microwave some popcorn. You can earn €12.98 on the Irish minimum wage or the equivalent of €10.31 in dollars on the U.S. federal minimum wage. Alternatively you can see Investment by Random Scream in Project Arts Centre, which at €10 for 90 minutes comes in at an hourly rate of €6.67, almost €2 lower than the minimum wage. The point is that when we think of time in this way it acts as a network of value – a way of putting a number on activities and deciding if they are worth it, and a way of comparing one activity, or one person’s activities, to another’s. To think of time like this is to think of time and experience in a way that is deeply connected to the other most common, and undoubtedly more famous, value network – money. Time and money are so embedded in the concept of value in contemporary society that it might almost seem odd to suggest thinking of them in any other way, and for the most part we don’t. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is that for most people paying rent, buying food and being able to afford to go to a play forces us to keep this link explicit as we deal in small sums with concrete values to which we can easily relate.
What Investment tries to do is somewhat break this link, by offering us the promise (and potential, via a real lottery ticket) of the sort of sums of money that allow us to look at the money/time/value relation in a more abstract way. By comparing the quantities of theatre shows, dance performances, drinking water, emergency meals, carbon offsetting, cocaine and luxury handbags that you can get for €100,000, the company makes explicit the relationship between the price of different goods. Importantly though, the show raises some questions about values that often remain less explicit: the implicit and relative value of certain goods (things) and ‘goods’ (deeds); the value of art as either good (thing) or ‘good’ (deed); and the value of individual bourgeois social action in the face of a system of deep global inequality.
Tom for DRAFF
Investment by Random Scream is part of Project Arts Centre's One Time Season, running until November 26th.