Josh Kline:
Overtime (2020)

IV bag, espresso, Adderall, deodorant, Red Bull, Ritalin, printer ink, Vitamin C, mouthwash and toothpaste

Acquired Jun 2023

Overtime, 2020

As technology has made communication more accessible than ever, it has also eroded the boundaries between life and work. This sculpture fills an IV bag with a slew of liquids and chemicals that someone might use to manipulate their body into working “overtime”: espresso, Adderall, deodorant, Red Bull, Ritalin, printer ink, Vitamin C, mouthwash, and toothpaste. Overtime is part of a cycle of works Kline began in 2009 titled “Creative Labor,” which emerged from Kline’s collaboration with the collective Circular File (active 2007-10) and its other founding members, Anicka Yi and Jon Santos. It looks at the lives of “white collar” big-city creative workers in the twenty-first century and the ways that social media, employment precarity, lifestyle aspiration, and big pharma combine to create an increasingly unrecognizable human self. 

Overtime belongs to a series of IV sculptures that similarly propose frightening cocktails of drugs and liquids, like Insomnia (red wine, NyQuil, Xanax, Ambien, vodka, magnesium, Benadryl, CBD) or Clean (Dial soap, Purell hand sanitizer, bleach, lemon, cayenne, honey) each of which is presented in a glowing LED column that resembles both clinical and retail spaces. Overtime was made for his 2021 exhibition at Astrup Fearnley Museet in Oslo and emerged from the ideas from his 2013 exhibition Quality of Life at New York gallery 47 Canal. 

Referencing pop artists like Haim Steinbach, Jeff Koons, and Andy Warhol, who similarly took on the aesthetics of consumerism, Kline’s sculpture is distinguished by its unsettling violation of the body. Products not only reflect us, he seems to say; they infiltrate and morph us from the inside out, turning us into cyborgs.


Meet Josh Kline

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Photo Credit: Sean Donnola

Josh Kline (b. 1979, Philadelphia) lives and works in New York. The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York is currently presenting the first U.S. museum survey of Kline’s work. His film Adaptation (2019-2022) was recently screened at LAXART on the occasion of his first solo exhibition in Los Angeles. Kline’s work has been exhibited internationally at Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo (2020); Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy (2016); Portland Art Museum, Oregon (2016); and Modern Art Oxford, UK (2015) among others. He has participated in group exhibitions, including the Whitney Biennial, New York (2019); “New Order: Art and Technology in the Twenty-First Century,” Museum of Modern Art, New York (2019); MoMA PS1, New York (2013, 2012); and “2015 Triennial: Surround Audience,” New Museum, New York, among others. His work has also been exhibited at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2019); Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2019, 2015); ICA Boston (2018); MOCA Cleveland (2018); The Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC (2016); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2016); Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (2015); KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2016); ICA Philadelphia (2014); and the Fridericianum, Kassel (2013). His work is included in the collections of numerous institutions, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Aïshti Foundation, Beirut, Lebanon; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Rubell Family Collection, Miami.

"Capitalism doesn’t care about you. Economic systems don’t have feelings. In a society designed around planned obsolescence, the inevitable fate of goods and services and the people who provide them is to become waste. The same economic alchemy that transmutes a human being into a product–into 'human capital'–also turns them into sentient garbage."
Josh Kline


Project for a New American Century

Since the early 2000s, Kline has synthesized the most pressing issues of our time—from income inequality to the gig economy to social media surveillance—into visceral, alluring installations that reflect and challenge the status quo. Seamlessly melding video and sculpture in unconventional ways, Kline’s projects unfold as a series of ongoing “chapters” speculating what it would be like to live in America shortly (2030 - 2040), where our current issues are exacerbated or eliminated. 

Kline’s art often focuses on work—from FedEx delivery people to the itinerant, remote tech worker—and the surrounding cultures. His works make us ponder how financial speculation, profiteering, and automation have degraded our sense of humanity. Some of this outlook comes from his upbringing. Kline’s father, a biochemist at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, was laid off at 50. His mother, a pharmaceutical chemist from the Philippines, catered Filipino food, sold insurance and processed tax returns to support the family. She died when he was in college. His work, he has said, has a lot to do with “seeing their American dreams fizzle out.”

Kline’s work is characterized by an irreverent, uncanny approach to materials and an engagement with cutting-edge technologies. In a now iconic 2014 sculpture for The High Line titled Skittles, he produced a sculpture resembling an industrial refrigerator stocked with drinks. Instead of trendy blends of cold-pressed juices, he stocked it with concoctions of coconut water, HDMI cables, infant formula, turmeric, and hunks of purple yoga mats. (Another, titled “Williamsburg,” contained kombucha, quinoa, American Apparel underwear, and blended credit cards, among other ingredients.) The following year, he produced Crying Games, a video work that used deep fake technology to show an imprisoned George Bush apologizing for international war crimes. Whether climate change, surveillance, or tech culture, Kline is one of our moment’s sharpest satirists. 

But Kline also believes that another world is possible. As curator Christopher Y. Lew (an Arkive member!) notes in the Whitney Museum’s exhibition catalog, Kline is both a “world maker and a sharp critic of the times in which we live,” and the dystopian elements of his work are balanced by the romantic ones—from a video touting the benefits of Universal Basic Income to a vision of a society modeled on abundance rather than scarcity. “The first step towards a cure is diagnosing the disease,” he concludes in the opening essay. “You are not your job. You are not your career. You are a human being.”

In conjunction with Josh Kline’s mid-career survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art, on May 22, 2023, Arkive launched an acquisition presenting three works from Josh Kline—all on view at the museum—for potential acquisition. After a series of votes, the community selected Overtime (2020) as the fourteenth acquisition into the collection. Core team members then worked with the New York-based 47 Canal to acquire the work. Overtime (2020) will go on display via long-term residency at a prominent public location, as selected by the Arkive membership.

About the acquisition

Select member comments

"It’s symbolic power really touches me on a subconscious level. On one level, the inside of the bag, it’s modern doping for the worker with smart drugs, a concept I found alluring and did myself in my thirties. On the other hand the packaging, the outside world, the IV triggers fear of death. Powerful."
"This visually impactful work makes you think about everything that people do in order to meet the demands of the external world, even at the expense of their own health."
"The sad thing is that this could be an actual product promising to boost productivity in the hustle culture we are wrapped in."
"The 'hustle' culture that this piece evokes is the antithesis of a (real) 'woke'ness whose time has come to stand up against the de-humanizing of humans. "


Additional materials

We encourage you to read further into Josh Kline, his works, and his career. To kickstart the process, please find a few selected readings and interviews below. As always, this is just the start. Join Arkive to continue the conversation with the community.

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