The show’s title “Learned Industriousness” refers to Robert Eisenberger’s homonymous theory which tries to explain the differences in general work effort among people of equivalent ability. According to Eisenberger, individuals who are reinforced for exerting high effort on a task are also secondarily reinforced by the sensation of high effort. Individuals with a history of this high effort reinforcement are more likely to generalize high effort to other behaviours. During the duration of the show, three gallery assistants try to come up with blue chip conceptual ideas. Above each assistant, there’s each assistant’s personal mantra, created out of their curriculum vitae by a profiling algorithm.
The display cites the current capitalistic corporate style: Grey, elegant, golden letters, meaningless design. All ideas created during the exhibition are directly sold to collectors, along with a certificate of the artist. By signing the certificate with the name of the artist and not mentioning the original author, the artist wakes awareness of corporate incorporation as well as Roloand Barthes’ 1967 essay “Death of the Author”. In that very essay, Barthes argues against traditional literary criticism’s practice of incorporating the intentions and biographical context of an author in an interpretation of a text.