Calling someone lazy is an especially strong insult in a society where constant work is valued not just as a means to success, but as success in itself. Laziness, an unwillingness to work, is culturally distinct from other forms of not working. The rich financier works “smarter, not harder” by investing in the right places, having others do the menial tasks, and letting capitalism do the work. On the other hand, the poor retail clerk who refuses to take on more shifts—mind-numbing labor that would result in a barely perceptible increase in her paycheck—is deemed lazy.
On a hot day in August 2016, artist Domingo Castillo and curator Liz Shannon hosted a discussion about laziness. Predicated on the idea that laziness is important to the creative process, the talk at Locust Projects in Miami spurred significant attendance by local artists, all of whom seemed to have closely-held beliefs about the subject. It didn’t take long for debates to erupt. People started arguing before the concept of laziness was even properly fleshed out. I suggested that artists needed to embrace the idea of pure laziness—never mind output, forget about process. Adler Guerrier, a Miami-based artist in attendance, disagreed completely, and said that not working was essential to artmaking, but that laziness for its own sake should not be embraced. “This whole sort of moral framing of what laziness is, I didn’t like that at all,” Guerrier told me in a recent conversation.
published in Pelican Bomb, Jan. 2018