This work is based on the physical law of friction that occurs between the interleaved pages of two books during an attempt to pull them apart. Here, this physics phenomenon is placed into a social context. The video Four Workers and a Couple of Theories shows four Workers trying to pull apart two books: Marx’s Capital and Chris Hedges’ Death of the Liberal Class. During the filmed action, the dynamometer measured the achieved power of the Workers in their attempt to unclench the two theories. The force achieved is then replicated by the mechanical Friction Machine, which works with the power of the four men it has replaced. The attempt we follow in the video is thus staged by the machine that tightens and eases the tension between the books’ pages, which are so strongly woven together by the simple physical factor of friction that four Workers are unable to unbind them. 

The words of two are standing up to the machine that has replaced the power of four. Marx’s Capital as the unsurpassed critique of political economy in which Marx discloses the economic laws of capitalist exploitation is literally felted with the critique of the liberal class, which once importantly contributed to the expansion of democratic rights together with the radical social and political movements, but today, due to its co-option with neoliberal ideology, no longer has a relevant place in the reflection on or the struggle for the possible radical social changes.

In collaboration with: Technical assistance by Andrej Primožič

Photos: Janez Pelko

Year of production: 2013