The 100,000 euro job

Cultural projects developed by young people

What do today's youth think of their parents' background? What do they dream of becoming? What is more important to them - money, a career, self-realization, or a combination of all these things? In light of the rapid changes taking place in the work market, what new ideas and wishes do young people have for their own future or that of society as a whole?

These are some of the questions posed by the project "The 100,000 Euro Job", a national competition by and for young people, initiated by the Federal Cultural Foundation. The "Visionauts" in Leipzig were the administrators for this project, which was directed by Sebastian Sooth - founder and project director of the national Youth Participation Service Office, co-developer of the Youth Bank Deutschland, project director of the EU pilot project "Netzwerkstatt- Stadtnetzwerk für Jugend und Politik" and programme curator of "Berlin 05 - Festival für Junge Politik".

This competition called on young people aged 16 to 26 living in the German-speaking countries to submit an artistic project concept based on the subject of work. Groups and individuals had to submit their entries by 30 June 2006. The title "The 100.000 Euro Job" sounds like a fast way to earn money and resembles similar offers in the classifieds or mass SMS mailings. However, this "job" was shared by many young applicants - in fact, it was a fund which a jury of young people divided up among the winning project concepts.

The competition was looking for original, experimental and unusual project ideas, stories and visions, in which young people formulate their questions, wishes and theories about "labour" in their own personal way. All formats were permitted - videos, performances, photo stories, movie scripts, rap compositions, short stories, plays and public happenings. The projects initiators wished to encourage young people to be creative and develop aesthetic forms for dealing with this issue which affects their lives existentially on a day-to-day basis.

The selected proposals were presented in the following cities from September 2006 to the end of January 2007: Altdorf, Berlin, Bonn, Bremen, Duisburg, Düsseldorf, Eichstätt, Frankfurt, Halle an der Saale, Hamburg, Karlsruhe, Cologne, Leipzig, Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Munich, Oldenburg, Parchim, Pirmasens, Potsdam, Pritzwald, Quierschied, Regensburg, Riegelsberg, Salzmünde, Senftenberg, Tessin, Trier, Weimar, Zwenkau.

Examples of projects funded by the 100,000 Euro Job:

Working in 2107

Performance, Zwenkau / Saxony

The term "fashion show" took on a new meaning in this project. A competition called on young creative artists to participate in a design process based on the theme "The Future of Labour". Will clothing make our lives easier in the future? Will the monitor be integrated into the left sleeve and the keyboard onto our forearm? Or will our working uniform adapt itself automatically to the temperature outside? The best proposals were chosen and the winners received a starter packet comprised of 5 kg of fabric from second-hand clothes.

On Speed ... On Coke ... On Work

Website, Berlin

With slogans like "Just Say No To Work", "Make Love, Not Work", and "Embrace Life, Quit Work", this project emphasized the dismal future promised by work. Those who devote themselves to work often neglect their families, cheat on their girlfriend or boyfriend, encounter sickness, poverty, and in the end, even death. Young people get hooked on work because of curiosity, the desire for recognition or the wish to escape problems, but this can quickly lead to the burden of work dependence, worry, and financial difficulties. There are many reports by former work addicts who describe how difficult it was to live again without work and to free themselves from work dependency. The project "On Work" was devoted to educating and informing young people, for it has been proven that work can result in addiction and even madness! An intriguing Internet website contains information regarding the risks of work, symptoms of physical and mental dependence, and alternatives and preventative measures.

Me and the Others

Short film, Oldenburg / Lower Saxony

Paul is twenty, in the bloom of his pursuits. He has a well-paid job, a girlfriend and broadband TV. And because of this, he never misses a chance to sing his own praises. He memorizes intelligent-sounding quotes to impress people. When flirting at a bar, he spices up the conversation with medical terms. And he has the habit of giving bus drivers directions. Paul always knows best. Until the day his boss fires him unexpectedly and his superior lifestyle begins to crumble around him. When his girlfriend leaves him and an incompetent agent at the employment office tries giving him love advice, Paul finally realizes that something has to radically change in his life.

Pay for Your Freedom!

Film, Berlin

Are workers truly indispensable? This project opens with the question: Can we purchase your employee's freedom? The project's organizers will approach people of diverse professions on the street and at their workplaces in search of three candidates for a contest. The prize will be nothing more nor less than free time from work. The contest begins with a negotiation with the employer who will be offered 1,000 euros to release the employee from his/her duties yet continue to pay his/her salary. If the employer agrees, then a second round of negotiations will determine how much free time the candidate will have - an extended lunch break, two days, a month, maybe longer? Regardless of their success, the negotiations are a crucial element of the project and were filmed by a camera team.

The World According to Heiner ("WAS IHR SOLLT")

Play, Berlin

There has always been work and there always will be. Only its form changes. The project "The World According to Heiner" (WAS IHR SOLLT), based on Heiner Müller's play "Der Lohndrucker" (The Scab), contrasts the forms of work of 1948 and 2006. The two plays are both set at a construction site, the first takes place in the socialist GDR, the second in the "social market economy" of the FRG. In 1948, the workers are burdened by the lack of materials, the ideology of communist progress and state-dictated norms. The employees of 2006 are faced with rationalization, existential fears and the reduction of social benefits. The project produced two plays, each 45 minutes long featuring the same characters in different periods and different systems. The basic question is whether there is any difference between them at all.

Who Made the Pretzel?

Prints, photography, Karlsruhe / Baden-Württemberg

Who made the pretzel I'm eating? The organizers of this project met the people who produce the breads and pastries at a bakery, took photos of them at work and printed their pictures onto the bakery's paper bags. The project aimed to increase the awareness of those who work "behind the scenes" - from the farmer to the supplier all the way to the baker. According to the project's initiator: "I got the idea from something I recently experienced. I was in a small town and bought a roll at a bakery. While I was eating it, I happened to read the text on the paper bag. The last sentence was 'The grain used in our bread is produced by Farmer Roth of Orsingen.' Farmer Roth - that was my uncle! I was totally surprised about this personal relationship to a product that is usually anonymous." In order to offer other people a similar experience, the project printed a total of eight photos onto 16,000 paper bags and brought them into circulation. Over a period of several weeks, the customers at a Karlsruhe bakery received their pastries in paper bags printed with photos of employees who helped make them. The photos were presented with other pictures of those involved in the production chain in an exhibition room in Karlsruhe.

The Book "The 100.000 Euro Job"

The book "The 100,000 Euro Job" does far more than simply document a project. It provides practical advice on how to sensibly integrate work into your daily life, such as, working at a dairy farm during your vacation, living a life as a Digital Bohemian or being an opening act for “The Clash”. It is about planning ahead for your retirement, applying strategies to prevent karoshi, death caused overworking yourself, and what you can do with 100,000 euro. Each of the 47 projects in the “The 100,000 Euro Job” and the concept of “deciding on how to use funding yourself” are presented and commented on by Supatopcheckerbunny. The book was released in March 2008. Edited by Sebastian Sooth and published by Verbrecher Verlag.

The funded projects

Young people throughout Germany voted via Internet for the projects which they believed merited funding in the “100,000 Euro Job” pool. You can read the short descriptions of the projects, written by young people.

The funded projects (opens in a new window)


Sebastian Sooth

Körnerstraße 56

04107 Leipzig (external link, opens in a new window)