Operations
2008
A film by Robert Schabus

XDCamHD (EX)
16/9
29 minutes
Camera, film editing, interviews: Robert Schabus
Music: Herwig Zamernik
With: Markus Käfer and Eduard Langusch, Alexander Kuttnig, Heinz Buchacher, Mariza Dominkovic, Thomas Kornmüller and Karl Gugerel, Erich Mietler
Commissioned by: Lakeside Science & Technology Park GmbH

"Betrieb" offers a closer look behind the shiny surface of the carefully curated corporate identity of linguistical, pictorial and graphical rhetoric. Robert Schabus gives a voice to the people who provide the indispensable material support for a new world of immaterial labor, the latter needing the former to keep up its advertised environment of openness, cleanliness and safety (as the essential criteria of a business location). Gardeners, postal workers and garbage collectors, rooftop-garden cultivators, a cleaning woman and a guard talk about the details of their duties, their careers, the pros and cons of their working conditions and their personal satisfaction with their job.
The backdrop to these reflections is a picturesque, almost cozy ambience created by lush foliage and ambitious architecture, with lingering shots taken during the loveliest season of the year. This aesthetic surface contrasts with the ponderings of the workers on what kind of labor is actually taking place behind these facades, in the corporate offices, and what kind of benefits the difficult-to-grasp IT industry might possibly bring to society. While it may appear obvious that we are looking at a world, a microcosm, that is highly organized according to function and task, this impression is sometimes shaken by what we discover in the course of the interviews. For instance, when we find out that the gardener studied at the Technical University and worked for years as a database systems developer, there is a hint at the real-life dilemmas and career transitions taking place between these apparently so distinct working worlds.
(Translation of the German text by Christian Kravagna, 2009)