Serpentine’s 13th Annual Ideas Festival Investigates Work

Serpentine Gallery Marathon Attendees

How are artificial intelligence, automation, the gig economy and hotly-debated political proposals such as Universal Basic Income impacting the future of work and the potential for a post-work future? Where and how is labour invisible? What and who do we think of when discussing work – can non-human agents, such as plants or robots, work? The Work Marathon – at the Royal Geographical Society on 22 September – will engage artists, sociologists, anthropologists, writers, musicians, designers, architects, scientists and philosophers on the complex and timely subjects of work, labour, automation and leisure in the context of current cultural, political, economic and environmental debates.

More than 50 participants will gather at this latest edition of the Serpentine’s celebrated annual festival of ideas to explore issues including: the technological developments leading to automation and its impact on the labour market; the political urgencies of coerced and invisible labour; and the role of non-human agents, including artificial intelligence, animals and materials, in the context of planetary ecologies of work.

Led by Serpentine Galleries Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist and co-conceived with Professor Bernard Stiegler, the Work Marathon will gather experts from around the world to consider Economics of work in an age in which labour, environmental resources and global politics are irrevocably entangled in a complex web. With Stiegler’s advice, the Marathon will contribute to a manifesto, the first version of which will be issued on 23 September 2018 before a definitive version is sent to the United Nations in Geneva on 10 January 2020, the centenary of the founding of the League of Nations.

Participants include: Sara Baranzoni, David Berry, Mark Boyle, Lily Cole, Beatriz Colomina, Rana Dasgupta, Aria Dean, Julien Dossier, Divya Dwivedi, Noel Fitzpatrick, Formafantasma, Peter Fischli, Furtherfield, Fernando Garcia Dory, GCC, Anna Bella Geiger, Jon Gray, Madeline Hollander, Yuk Hui, Anne Imhof, Josh Kline, Shaj Mohan, Gerald Moore, Richard Mosse, Oscar Murillo, Precious Okoyomon, Wilson Oryema, Venkatesh Rao, Alice Rawsthorn, Pedro Reyes, Daniel Ross, Saskia Sassen, Emily Segal, Patrick Staff, Bernard Stiegler, James Suzman, Phoebe Tickell and Paolo Vignola. Further participants to be announced soon.

During the Work Marathon, Intelligence Squared will host a debate on ‘The Future of Work’, chaired by Helen Lewis and featuring Stella Creasy MP, Jamie Susskind and Nick Srnicek. Panels on philosophy, science, art, design and fashion will be led by experts from across the creative industries. Architecture historian Beatriz Colomina will reactivate Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s historic 1969 ‘bed-in’ as a site-specific installation, holding conversations with Work Marathon participants from her own bed inside the Serpentine Pavilion 2018.

The Work Marathon follows last year’s investigations into the impact of artificial intelligence, machine learning and human consciousness at the GUEST, GHOST, HOST: MACHINE! Marathon at London’s City Hall. Since 2006, the annual Serpentine Marathon has gathered leading figures from all disciplines to explore a specific topic from multiple perspectives. Launched by Serpentine Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist with the now legendary Interview Marathon, co-curated with Rem Koolhaas in his 2006 Pavilion, Marathons have covered the themes of experiments, manifestos, poetry, maps, gardens, memory, the generation born after 1989, extinction, transformations and miracles.

Royal Geographical Society
1 Kensington Gore, Kensington, London SW7 2AR
When: Saturday 22 September, 10am-10pm
Livestream / Podcasts at
£15/10. Booking essential via

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