The Work Songs programme examines how we give meaning to the world through our work. We literally create the world around us when we are at work. Since time immemorial, labourers have supplied cadence, inspiration, comfort and courage for our toil. Hard work that we often do not benefit from as the fruits of our labour go to others far away and out of sight.

We produce to consume. Multinationals, government bureaucracies, extensive production chains, the digital revolution, mind-boggling financial structures and increasing mobility make our grip on the physical and social environment more tenuous. The utility of our activities is fading away. We outsource everything, even the raising of our children.

By working we make and control our world. We are increasingly surrounded by our own creation. Though, simultaneously our environment appears to be becoming increasingly intangible. Is abstraction the price we pay for wealth? How much abstraction can we actually handle? The Monnik collective from Amsterdam goes in search of the anthropology of capitalism and wonders whether our work makes us more and less human.

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