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Insourcing: One Horsepower challenged the modern attitude that bodies are a fragile, useless technology,  by performing a unit of work used to measure that of animals and machines: the horsepower. In so doing, the performance “insourced” work by re-engaging the physical capacities that have long been displaced by industrial and post-industrial processes.

While human labor remains a factor of production in many countries around the world, the individuality and humanity of workers are undercut by profit motives at a global scale. Insourcing: One Horsepower revalued individual physical effort as a central component of price and worth, seeking an economy of means over an economy of scale—expressed in the price of the oranges carried 150 pounds 100 feet in 1 minute.

Inspired by the cultural crossover of Chinatown, where goods are still moved by hand and large loads of red-bagged groceries are carried long distances home to the outer boroughs, this performance harnessed and amplified that work within a single body.
By asserting the preeminence of physical labor, Insourcing: One Horsepower blurred the distinctions between human, animal and machine, first and third world, chore, ritual and commerce.


Commissioned by NARS, and performed for Ideas City, NY
Bamboo architecture: Adam Hayes
One Horsepower work validation: Forest Purnell

Photography: Samantha Leigh

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