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Words Laura Bannister

Get to work

A first look at Museum Issue 7. 

It’s the start of September, and it’s hot in Australia; those who labour manually do so in unusually high climes for this time of year. In the new issue of Museum—which is themed FACTORY and on stands worldwide from today—photojournalist Rodrigo Mena Ruiz shoots the realities of working in sweltering temperatures elsewhere: his eight-page photo essay documents workers at one of the Bhaktapur brick pits in Nepal. (There are some 62 brick factories in the region, and since the 2015 earthquake, business is booming.)

Issue 7 is a meditation on work in every guise, and the physical spaces it occurs in. It’s about offices and artist studios, about factories themselves, and sometimes, about the dreams of those who fill them—as explored by one of China’s leading contemporary artists, Cao Fei.

Among its 200-plus pages, artists, curators, writers and photographers explore the future of manufacturing, from automation to robotics, from reproductions to rip-offs and simulations. Now and then these visions are utopic, or at least full of hope—other times they are sinister. As James Hennessy argues in a specially-commissioned essay on the app economy and self-driving cars, “Even those systems which emerge to create new, practical jobs are themselves angled along a continuum towards automation. [Uber] is the perfect example of a system eating itself—it exists nominally to connect riders to drivers to the benefit of both, but ultimately cannot sustainably exist unless the drivers (the labour) are robotised.”

There are conversations on first jobs and work ethics with designer Paul Andrew of Salvatore Ferragamo, artists Bhenji Ra and Clare Milledge, COW BOOKS founder Yataro Matsuura, and The New Yorker’s cartoon editor Emma Allen; and there are interviews with artists from the futuristic Michael Candy to the generous, articulate Nari Ward. Our writers visit Coral Morphologic’s lab in Miami, to discuss the survival of the delicate invertebrate organism, and reflect on the changing nature of fashion exhibitions with Pamela Golbin, chief curator of the Louvre’s Musée de la Mode et du Textile, Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

The enormous edition has three covers—one photographed by Charles Dennington in Sydney, another by Toby Coulson in London. The third, a limited edition hardcover with pale yellow foiling and a colour photo plate, was photographed in New York by Sloan Laurits. Only 100 copies of the latter will be available worldwide, exclusive to speciality retailers, or in the Museum online store.

Order the Factory edition here, and have it delivered to your door. 


Cover by Charles Dennington and Sarah Starkey


Cover by Britt McCamey and Toby Coulson


Cover by Sloan Laurits and Mac Huelster

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