exhibition / exhibition program

hardly working, by total refusal

9 May

to 17 Aug

free admission

galeria um


This film is a political appropriation of video games. Hardly Working is based on the universe of the game Red Dead Redemption 2, which includes numerous secondary characters controlled by artificial intelligence who are often ignored by players. These are non-player characters (NPCs) who populate the digital world as mere extras, designed to create a semblance of normality and everyday life in the game world. Hardly Working observes four of these characters with ethnographic precision – a laundress, a livery worker, a street sweeper and a carpenter – considering them as animal laborans, a term used by philosopher Hannah Arendt. In other words, a labourer whose work reinforces the status quo rather than changing it. Activities such as sweeping the floor or driving nails into wood become inconclusive and absurd. The NPCs are Sisyphean machines, programmed to get stuck in the routines of everyday life without any results.
Total Refusal presents itself as a pseudo-Marxist media guerrilla. It is a collective of artists, researchers and filmmakers who recycle the resources of video games to create political narratives in the form of videos, interventions, performances and talks. Their work has been shown at more than 250 film and art festivals and exhibited in various spaces since it was founded in 2018.

exhibition part of the index 2024 – art and technology biennial programme

european media art platform is a project co-funded by the european union



support portuguese republic – culture / directorate-general for the arts. rtcp – network of portuguese theatres and cinemas


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