Issue/89/

ESSAYS

Useless Work, Useful Toil

By MING LIN

Artistic interventions in China's factories are proposing new definitions of labor

MA YONGFENG, Invest in Contradiction, 2012, part of “Social Sensibility Research and Development Program,” 

graffiti preparation at Bernard Controls factory, Beijing, 2012. Courtesy Alessandro Rolandi.

According to the "5S" Japanese management method, five key principles—seiri ("sort"), seiton ("set in order"), seiso ("clean"), seiketsu ("standardize") and shitsuke ("discipline")—should govern the workplace to ensure improved organization and efficiency. Factories around the world adhere to this scheme, believing that such optimization can yield company growth. In China…

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