Insourcing, One Horsepower

Performance
1 minute
2012

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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.

PROJECT CREDITS

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

Photography: Samantha Leigh

©2020 by Nancy Nowacek

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