The idea for Workers’ Forum developed from Takala’s experience as a micro-tasker in the United States, working for a service where users pay to have a pretend girlfriend or boyfriend texting them. Through a crowdsourcing platform, the artist responded to the task ‘Write a text message that is positive, engaging and convincingly written in the voice of someone texting a significant other.’ Takala was fascinated by the potential within the fictional space created in the text message exchange, but like many of the other workers, she was frustrated by the inconsistencies and lack of quality of the service. Many felt compelled to invest extra time and effort into the emotional labour aspect of the role, despite being underpaid and working within a system that is designed to minimise human connection and make caring as difficult as possible. Workers’ Forum is based on conversations that took place on a discussion forum between the workers, trying to figure out together how to be an invisible partner.
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