The Museum of the Worker

One of the problems to solve for the next generation is what happens to the people who did the manual work when everything is done by ai operated robots and machines? This feels a way away in Morocco, because a lot is still done by men with their hands, there are many ‘works in progress’ you can hear and see them everywhere.

I was therefore surprised to find such a spot on exhibition about this global question at the Comptoir Des Mines Gallerie, on Rue De Yugoslavie in Marrakesh.

‘The Museum of the Worker’ is an exhibition by Mustapha Akrim whose father was a ‘manual worker’. He explores the nobility of hard manual work, while highlighting the historical link with previous seismic changes in the World at different ages in history.

Mustapha cleverly highlights the anticipated demise of manual labour by mirroring the display techniques used in museums which display past antiquities with narrative about how they were used and why. Like that we become the viewer and the connection is made between the kinds of tools you sometimes see displayed in museums from the stone and iron age, which were found in archeological digs, and those used by workmen today.

The exhibition is impressive because of both its scale (held on the ground floor gallery and first floor), its philosophical view point, and the skill with which the story has been brought to life through different media (painting, sculpture in cement etc).

Everyday items such as a broken radio, work tools and the kind of tea pot used for breaks are all cast in cement. The ‘robes’ and hats of the absent workmen are cast and hung on walls, or depicted in paintings which pay homage to similar images from art history, for instance Rueben’s depiction of Balzac’s bathrobe, and the draped figures of the Renaissance.

There is so much to get your teeth into here, its a great visit because it highlights a genuine issue and makes it the future truth, very topical in a transformational age.