On Wednesday 30th
July 2014 I travelled to Tai
Tam Country Park in Hong Kong, specifically to a small hill that had a footpath
all the way around, pretty much level for the whole circuit. I set up a base
near to a small dam as my starting and finishing point. Nearby was a wooden
shelter that would be very conveniently located for my breaks and lunchtime.
I walked around the hill clockwise from 9 to 5, the typical
working day, stopping for tea breaks in the mid-morning (roughly 10:30am) and
mid-afternoon (roughly 3:00pm) plus a one-hour break for lunch (at around
12:30). I treated the whole day seriously as work.
There was no script for the performance beyond the start,
break times and finish.
As I walked (worked) I carried a bag containing essential
worker’s tools as well as my packed lunch and something to drink. I also
carried a small note-pad to record the circuits i.e. the passing of time.
I notated the circuits of the hill in simple form with one
short, straight line for each circuit and a cross bar to complete each group of
5 circuits. The working day is often measured by the worker’s output and this
is often compared day by day in order to take stock of productivity. I adopted a strict work ethic and my production was the expiration of energy
into circuits of the hill and these had to be measured in order to take stock of
the sum of my labour at 5pm when my working day ended.
During the performance I became tired, a little distracted.
This mirrored the real experience of work, especially work that is menial in
nature. I reacted to these feelings instinctively and my reaction become part
of the performance. I found myself clock-watching, calculating how long I
needed to walk before I could allow myself a break and my mind was cast back to
the days when I have had to hold down jobs I didn't enjoy and which robbed me
of invaluable amounts of my life. My consolation during these times was the
salary that allowed me to pay my rent and therefore survive.
When the 5pm ‘clocking-off' time came, I felt a sense of
relief as I walked back up the steep hill to Park View and a bus back to Central.