What’s wrong with this picture? The young woman in the photo is smiling. Yet the words beside her tell us she hates her job!
This artwork was created in 1989 by Vancouver artist Ken Lum. His public pieces of art are on display in dozens of cities.
In 1990 Melly Shum Hates Her Job was part of a Ken Lum exhibition at the Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam. The Melly Shum piece was installed outside as a billboard. After the exhibition was over the billboard was taken down. But……… the gallery received so many phone calls from people who missed the art piece that it was permanently installed. Look at any itinerary for a city tour of Rotterdam and you’ll see that a stop at the Melly Shum Hates Her Job poster is included. Social media pages where people can vent about their jobs have been created in Melly Shum’s honor.
Why do so many people identify with Melly Shum? Perhaps because world- wide 90% of people don’t like their jobs- in China and Japan the rate is nearer 95% -in the United States the rate is 70%. But a 2016 report about Canada suggests only about 47% of people aren’t happy at their jobs.
Does Melly Shum’s poster speak to you? Why or why not?
You can see the Ken Lum poster in The 80s Image exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.