How May I Serve You?

26 November 2022
10:00 - 20:00

SET Kensington

How May I Serve You?

Private View and Performance: 26 November 10AM-8PM

The rest of the exhibition, which includes the previous conversations collected, visual documentation of these call centres and the cubicle, will be open to the public until the 30th of Nov.

How May I Serve You? aims to disrupt the corporate customer service system to personify and reveal the experiences of those individuals hidden behind calls and online chats.  These hidden workers behind offshore outsourced online customer services still experience negative consequences inherited from colonial systems. The project recreated a live-chat platform as a space to facilitate dialogues about working conditions, automation, online identities, and outsourcing systems with three call centre agents based in Pakistan outsourced by UK companies.

In 2020, amid the pandemic, the artist Jose Garcia Oliva started to research information about online identities, call centres and the people behind those platforms. After trying to start conversations with agents through live-chat platforms, he quickly hit a wall of censorship. The agencies based in Pakistan were not allowed to disclaim any information regarding their location and working conditions. This insight gave Oliva the idea to try and contact agents privately and invite them to participate in a recreated live chat where for once, they could talk openly without risking repercussions or censorship and to bring awareness about their working conditions to the audience using those services.

Oliva contacted first Malik Ayaz and later Saadia Abbasi, two agents based in Islamabad, Pakistan, outsourced by UK companies. Together they organised a first online performance, where anyone from anywhere could join and ask them questions about their experience as call centre agents. The platform replicates the aesthetics of a live-chat service where people have the opportunity to interact through open discussions during eight working hours – one at a time – with either one of them. The idea was to open up uncensored conversations where the audience and the agents decide which questions they want to ask or answer.

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