Janneke Absil, 
System D Academy, Sandberg grad show,
Burgerweeshuis, Amsterdam
Photo by: Sander van Wettum



This is an ongoing research. It is my compilation of examples in images and texts that inspire and confirm my perception of laziness, define informal laziness and share its value. These are also the examples that have triggered my curiosity to work with laziness in a ‘non-lazy’ context. Furthermore I hope that these examples will excite, and inspire the reader, while offering an understanding of productive laziness and its laid back solutions.

I put the examples in categories starting with natural laziness because everything starts with nature.

Followed up by: accidental, innovative, resistance, concealed, programmed, pragmatic, vernacular, stand by modus, disruptive, inventive and various.


San Diego Zoo staff recovered Mundu, a 2-year-old male koala, after he managed to slip out of his enclosure. Staff spotted Mundu sleeping in the treetops above his enclosure, and they were able to coax him down after the zoo closed. He was returned to his enclosure after a veterinary exam. Zoo spokeswoman Jenny Mehlow said male koalas reach sexual maturity at this age and are more adventurous.


Laziness enables serendipity. Serendipity means a “fortunate happenstance” or “pleasant surprise”. Serendipity could be more specifically defined as the occurrence and development of events by chance in a satisfactory or beneficial way, understanding chance as any event that takes place in the absence of any obvious project (randomly or accidentally), which is not relevant to any present need, or in which the cause is unknown.
Serendipity is less random as unplanned browsing (online). With serendipity you are already searching for something, and keep your eyes open for chances.
Because of rationalized results in theoretical and practical studies, the role of serendipity is often underestimated in theory and practice. Non-rational components such as chance discoveries, luck, surprises, undesirables, failures, things you have once or never dreamed of, jokes,and unknown factors that led to the result, stay therefore underexposed or obscured. The ‘inside story’, the ‘how it really happened story’, the ‘story behind the story’ remains hidden/unknown. This way pure rationality becomes the norm, both in terms of results asfor how the result came into being. -Pek van Andel
Serendipiteit de ongezochte vondst. 2015. Pek van Andel & Wim brands. page 58-59
Browsing allows for passiveness, serendipity and randomness. While browsing the Web, users often discover interesting information by accident, clicking on links that they had not intended to query for. This process is an integral part of the browsing experience. Aimless browsing can cure boredom and adds a sprinkle of purpose to the (seemingly) randomness of the ‘act’, boredom might be the key to serendipitous browsing and chance ideas.


Jeitinho (Brazilian Portuguese: “knack”) is more than finding a way to accomplish something by circumventing or bending the rules or social conventions. Some people see it as a typically Brazilian method of social navigation where an individual can use emotional resources (appeal to emotion), blackmail, family ties, promises, rewards or money to obtain favors or to get an advantage. But people forget to mention that this expression also comes from the necessity associated to a lack of resources and help. Most Brazilians have to be creative and invent new simpler ways to do things they need, as living.
The word “jeitinho” comes from the expression dar um jeito, literally “to find a way”. It implies the use of resources at hand, as well as personal connections, and creativity. Como é que ele conseguiu os bilhetes? How did he manage to get those tickets? Ele deu um jeito or in english “He found a way”
One way to understand jeitinho is as a recurso de esperteza, which means a resource used by espertos — savvy, cunning, or sly individuals who use common sense and prior knowledge, as well as naturally gifted intelligence in their thought processes. It implies that a person is “street-smart”, but not necessarily “book-smart.” It typically also connotes opportunism, pragmatism, and using one’s networks, with little regard for the law, the state or for persons outside of one’s own circle or family.
Trojan room coffee machine, The (xcoffee)
An invention driven by the act of laziness (and because of the need for coffee) was the webcam.
In 1991 a shared coffee pot by 15 researchers in the Systems Group was located at the University of Cambridge (England) in the corridor just outside the Trojan Room Computer Lab to provide researchers from the whole building their coffee. When a fresh pot was brewed, it often didn’t last long. So they created The Trojan Room coffee pot (the inspiration for the world’s first webcam), which streamed in a 128×128 greyscale picture the state of the coffee pot. The webcam was created to help people working in other parts of the building avoid pointless trips to the coffee pot by providing, on the workers’s desktop computer. Paul Jardetzky wrote a ‘server’ program, which ran on that machine and captured images of the pot every few seconds at various resolutions, and Quentin Stafford- Fraser wrote a ‘client’ program (XCoffee) which everybody could run, which connected to the server and displayed an icon-sized image of the pot in the corner of the workstation screens. In 1993 the Coffee Pot was made connected to the WWW and so the first Web cam was born. It made the image available to everybody else in the world. Before long, the Trojan Room coffeepot was one of the most popular sites on the early Web.
“The image was only updated about three times a minute, but that was fine because the pot filled rather slowly, and it was only greyscale, which was also fine, because so was the coffee.” – Quentin Stafford-Fraser
(Wednesday 22nd August 2001. The final image of the ‘XCoffee’, which shows the server being switched off.)
COMMUNlCATlONS OF THE ACM July 2001/Vol.44, No.7 pp.25-26
Useless actions are in such theories the best way to resist the power of a project oriented society. To act foolishly, playfully, or without a clear sense of purpose, spend time doing small things that are not important or necessary: fiddling around.
Chindogu is the Japanese art of creating essentially useless inventions that could be used to solve basic everyday problems. The term was coined by Kenji Kawakami, a Japanese inventor and editor of the magazine “Mail Order Life.” Chindougu is made up of two words. Chin means “curious” or “strange.” Dougu means “tool” or “device.” The first rule of Chindogu is, Chindogu inventions are essentially useless. The Japanese art of creating bizarre and funny tools for everyday life in ways that are as impractical as possible.
To qualify as Chindogu, these inventions can never be patented or sold, but they must exist in physical form, and, as rule #2 states, the creator must be able to hold them in his or her hand and think “I can actually imagine someone using this. Almost.” Chindogu seem like an ideal solution to a particular problem. However, chindōgu has a distinctive feature: anyone actually attempting to use one of these inventions would find that it causes so many new problems, or such significant social embarrassment, that effectively it has no utility whatsoever.
The Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventions. book by Kenji Kawakami
An Indian concept is ‘Jugaad’ a colloquial Hindi word, literally meaning a hack.
It is generally used as word to represent an innovative fix or a simple work-around, used for solutions that bend rules, or a resource that can be used as such, or a person who can solve a complicated issue. This meaning is often used to signify creativity to make existing things work or to create new things with meager resources. Companies in India are adopting Jugaad as a practise to reduce research and development costs.


Mladen Stilinovic
was born in Belgrade, 1947 & Lives and works in Zagreb. The principal subject of his work since the mid of 1970s is Laziness.
At that time he was surrounded by a circle of like-minded colleagues with some of them he founded the “Group of Six” artists collective, which relocated their activities onto the streets, the so called: manifestations ‘exhibition–actions’. With strong humor and a sense of hopelessness his critical position points to the absurdities and rigid systems in society. This position can be seen as one that purposely insists on the freedom of art and its possibility for offering a radically different perspective on these rigid systems. His work is perhaps not so much a political or aesthetic statement as a continued exploration of art making beyond expectations.
In 1978 Stilinovic demonstrated the “lazy method” in the work ‘Artist at Work’:
Impersonating the cliche of a slacker and photo documenting himself in 8 various states of sleep. Which resulted in this serie of photographs. He went to bed in daylight, dressed in his everyday outfit, with only the camera as his witness. Sleeping as a resistant practice against absorption in daily politics.
In another “lazy” work he inscribes his name onto the wall, repeating beneath it a dozen times the mantra, “I have no time, I have no time, I have no time”.
In a book (I have no time), he repeats that statement across nearly 20 pages. On the first two pages of the book, Stilinović introduces his playful meditation by speaking to the reader directly, advising, “I wrote this book/ when I had no time/ the readers are requested/to read it when they have no time.” This suggestion reflects a strategy that spans the 34 years of his book-making: wry humor that belies serious examination of the forces of regimentation and efficiency.  The feeling of having “no time” for consideration, which he regards as a powerful control of various production systems.
He was not interested in the gallery or museum system – he considers them as “insignificant factors.” Stilinović introduces laziness as “the absence of movement and thought, dumb time > total amnesia. Art would have to be something that doesn’t fuse with the systemic structure but an entity that maintains a differing mode of existence within it.


Work done for personal benefit (for home) while officialy engaging in wage labor (La perruque is the French term). De Certeau claims that everyday life is made up of
tactics and strategies. To illustrate this definition of “the tactic”, de Certeau introduces “la perruque”. “La perruque” is the worker’s own work being performed at the place of employment under the disguise of work for the boss. Nothing of value is stolen; what is taken advantage of is time. De certeau further defines “la perruque” by saying:
“It differs from absenteeism in that the worker is officially on the job. La perruque may be as simple a matter as a secretary’s writing a love letter on ‘company time or as complex as a cabinetmakers ‘borrowing a lathe to make a piece of furniture for his living room.” -Michel de Certeau
In this strategy, the worker diverts time away from producing profit for his or her employer and instead uses it for his or her own enjoyment, for activities that are “free, creative, and precisely not directed toward profit”.
“The dividing line no longer falls between work and leisure. These two areas of activity flow together.” – Michel de Certeau
Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (1984), page 25


copy & paste
In human–computer interaction, copy & paste is related commands that offer a user-interface interprocess communication technique for transferring data. The copy command creates a duplicate from its original position;  the selected data is placed in a clipboard. The data in the clipboard is later inserted in the position where the paste command is issued. The popularity of this method stems from its simplicity and the ease with which users can move data between various applications visually. Whenever possible use Copy & Paste to write things. Because it is an act of Efficiency (see “E”) & Laziness.  For an optimal use and improvement of speed you better use the keyboard shortcuts. It saves time so enhances the productivity of work.
French artist Jean-Marc Côté had visions of the year 2000 and shared them with thousands of French smokers in 1901. His renderings of what he imagined the year 2000 to be like were included in packs of cigarette and cigar boxes between 1899 and 1901.



Hammocks are seen mostly as a symbol of leisure, relaxation, and a simple easy living, but they served a specific purpose for where they were first used.
A hammock (from Spanish “hamaca”, borrowed from Taino and Arawak “hamaka”), is a sling made of fabric, rope, or netting, suspended between two points, used for swinging, sleeping, or resting. It normally consists of one or more cloth panels, or a woven network of twine or thin rope stretched with ropes between two firm anchor points such as trees or posts. Hammocks were developed by native inhabitants of Central and South America for sleeping. Later, they were used aboard ships by sailors to enable comfort and maximize available space, and by explorers or soldiers travelling in wooded regions and eventually by parents in the 1920s for containing babies just learning to crawl. Today they are popular around the world for relaxation; they are also used as a lightweight bed on camping trips.
As the miniature hammock made of pure gold, which is presented in the museum of gold in Bogotá, shows, the origin of the hammock lies with the indigenous people of Middle and South America. They knew its value very early on, as they started calling the hammock the “cradle of the gods”. The first hammocks were made of the bark of the hamack tree, making the origin of the original name “hamaca” abundantly clear.


Dreams are made of action. When there is no action, then they’re not dreams; they’re daydreams. A series of pleasant thoughts about something you would prefer to be doing or something you would like to achieve in the future.
for example:
“Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect experience if only one had
a coloured pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling.” – 
Gilbert Keith Chesterton – On Lying in Bed (1909)
Drifting was an essential component of ‘the revolution of everyday life’, to the Situationists. In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the urban terrain and the encounters they find there.
Psychogeography is an approach to geography that emphasizes playfulness and “drifting” around urban environments. It has links to the Situationist. It was defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.´An informed and aware wandering, with continuous observation, through varied environments. It can be sought and can lead anywhere.
Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished. It is the practice of doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, or carrying out less urgent tasks instead of more urgent ones, thus putting off impending tasks to a later time. Sometimes, procrastination takes place until the “last minute” before a deadline. Procrastination can take hold on any aspect of life — putting off cleaning the stove, repairing a leaky roof, seeing a doctor or dentist, submitting a job report or academic assignment or broaching a stressful issue with a partner. Procrastination can lead to feelings of guilt, inadequacy, depression and self-doubt.


The word is strongly connected both to the interruption of activity and force. A break can be voluntary or imposed. The versatility of the word alone seems to give an account of the potential power of the interruption of activity to turn things around.
These examples are copy-paste from the free dictionary:
1. To cause to separate into pieces suddenly or violently; smash.
a. To divide into pieces, as by bending or cutting: break crackers for a baby.
b. To separate into components or parts: broke the work into discrete tasks.
3. To snap off or detach: broke a twig from the tree.
a. To cause to undergo a fracture of (a bone, for example):
The impact of the fall broke his leg.
b. To experience a fracture in (a bone, for example):
I broke my wrist when skateboarding.
5. To crack without separating into pieces: broke the mirror.
a. To destroy the completeness of (a group of related items):
broke the set of books by giving some away.
b. To exchange for smaller monetary units: break a dollar.
7. To vary or disrupt the uniformity or continuity of:
a plain that was broken by low hills; caught the ball without breaking stride.
8. Electricity To render (a circuit) inoperative by disruption; open.
9. To open (a shotgun or similar firearm) at the breech, as for loading or cleaning.
a. To force or make a way through; puncture or penetrate:
The blade barely broke the skin.
b. To part or pierce the surface of: a dolphin breaking water.
11. To produce (a sweat) copiously on the skin, as from exercise.
12. To force one’s way out of; escape from: break jail.
13. To make or bring about by cutting or forcing:
break a trail through the woods.
a. To find an opening or flaw in: They couldn’t break my alibi.
b. To find the solution or key to; uncover the basic elements and arrangement of: break a code; break a spy ring.
15. To make known, as news: break a story.
16. To surpass or outdo: broke the league’s home-run record.
17. To overcome or put an end to, especially by force or strong opposition:
break a deadlock in negotiations; break a strike.
18. Sports To win a game on (an opponent’s service), as in tennis.
19. To lessen the force or effect of: break a fall.
20. To render useless or inoperative: We accidentally broke the radio.
21. To weaken or destroy, as in spirit or health; overwhelm with adversity:
“For a hero loves the world till it breaks him” (William Butler Yeats).
22. To cause the ruin or failure of (an enterprise, for example):
Indiscretion broke both marriage and career.
23. To reduce in rank; demote.
24. To cause to be without money or to go into bankruptcy.
25. To fail to fulfill; cancel: break an engagement.
26. To fail to conform to; violate: break the speed limit.
27. Law To cause (a will) to be invalidated because of inconsistency with state inheritance laws or as a result of other legal insufficiency.
a. To give up (a habit).
b. To cause to give up a habit: They managed to break themselves of smoking.
29. To train to obey; tame: The horse was difficult to break.
Oblomov + -ism
The unsuccessful character Oblomov written about in (a successful) novel by Russian writer Ivan Goncharov, was first published in 1859. Oblomov (the head character) is a generous nobleman who seems incapable of making important decisions or undertaking any significant actions. Not that Oblomov lacks dreams. He dreams great things. But throughout the novel he rarely leaves his room or bed and just manages to move from his bed to a chair in the first fifty pages. While clearly funny, the novel seriously face critical issues going on in Russian society in the nineteenth century. Oblomov’s end is quiet, much like the rest of his life.
Ivan Goncharov (born in 1812 in Simbirsk) knew his subject well. He saw all around him the effects on a whole class of people of unearned wealth. Nobles without ambition slowly allowed their estates to decay and their country to drift towards class warfare. Although they could see that their efforts could be to their own advantage, they would not stir themselves from their creature comforts to act. This endemic lassitude came to be called Oblomovism. Used as a slang term originated in pre-Soviet Russia.
Though many struggled against it, it proved a significant force in Russian society and culture. Goncharov himself had to struggle to overcome his own lethargy to complete this work. It took him more than ten years to write the book.


Ivan Illich
(1926 – 2002) was an Austrian philosopher, and critic of the institutions of contemporary Western culture and their effects on the provenance and practice of education, medicine, work, energy use, transportation, and economic development.
Illich worked to open new possibilities. The main notion of his work is the concept of counterproductivity.
“Convivality” was another concept he invited.  He argued that we need convivial tools as opposed to machines (industrial productivity). A tool may have many applications, some very different from its original intended use. A tool may be thought of as an expression of its user. The opposite of this is the machine, where humans become its servants, their role consisting only of running the machine for a single purpose.
Prisoners in rich countries often have access to more things and services than members of their families, but they have no say in how things are to be made and cannot decide what to do with them. Their punishment consists in being deprived of what I shall call “conviviality.” They are degraded to the status of mere consumers.”
“I choose the term “conviviality” to designate the opposite of industrial productivity.
I intend it to mean autonomous and creative intercourse among persons, and the intercourse of persons with their environment; and this in contrast with the conditioned response of persons to the demands made upon them by others, and by a man-made environment. I consider conviviality to be individual freedom realized in personal interdependence and, as such, an intrinsic ethical value. I believe that, in any society, as conviviality is reduced below a certain level, no amount of industrial productivity can effectively satisfy the needs it creates among society’s members.”
“Present institutional purposes, which hallow industrial productivity at the expense of convivial effectiveness, are a major factor in the amorphousness and meaninglessness that plague contemporary society. The increasing demand for products has come to define society’s process. I will suggest how this present trend can be reversed and how modern science and technology can be used to endow human activity with unprecedented effectiveness. This reversal would permit the evolution of a life style and of a political system which give priority to the protection, the maximum use, and the enjoyment of the one resource that is almost equally distributed among all people: personal energy under personal control. I will argue that we can no longer live and work effectively without public controls over tools and institutions that curtail or negate any person’s right to the creative use of his or her energy. For this purpose we need procedures to ensure that controls over the tools of society are established and governed by political process rather than by decisions by experts.”
book: Tools for Conviviality, Ivan Illich, 1973

The current neoliberal pressure to do more, be more, earn more, and learn more confronts us with a strict regime that, if followed, promises productivity, development, forwardness and improvement. Little is left to the imagination if it regards the way we ‘should’ live our lives. Routines of work structure daily existence and working overtime is highly regarded and sometimes is even a manifestation of success. When not at work, family, and friends demand attention, at the same time we constantly need to stay up-to-date on the latest cultural- & sports activities, Internet, and “the” news. These responsibilities and expectations leave little to no room for, and even stigmatize, laziness. Laziness is regarded as a bad thing.

Laziness as a phenomenon is full of contradictions and paradoxes, that I find interesting and stimulating. It is real-surreal, funny-sad, ingenious-stupid, creating-destructive, usual-unusual, engaged-non-engaged, useful-useless, productive-unproductive…

Everyone understands Laziness, you can find it everywhere. But most of the times it is invisible. Not because laziness is poorly exposed, but because it is rather ignored than acknowledged. I believe that laziness deserves attention and hope this platform will be seen as an ode to laziness.



I am curious to see how laziness emerges in contexts where it normally doesn’t belong. These new combinations can inspire, surprise, motivate and, can lead to thinking and/or acting differently…

At this point it is important to emphasize that I differentiate formal laziness from informal laziness. I consider formal laziness to be designed (designated laziness). This kind of laziness is allowed and encouraged in workplaces, public transport and public space. For example, (so called) ‘relax rooms’ in offices allow laziness for a limited amount of time, or benches in public space.

Informal laziness comes naturally and is sincere. It is the genuine sort of laziness, and the kind that I refer to when I use the word ‘laziness’. It is the laziness that not only allows rest or mindfulness, but also creates space for: resistance, fantasy, serendipity, observation, innovation and whatever this might (not) result in…

I am interested in informal laziness popping-up in formal settings (for example in workplaces). In a current society that revolves around productivity and results, laziness cannot be conceptualized and merchandized by the system and therefore is labelled as something of no use. People who do not (have a chance to) work are considered lazy, even if the lack of an occupation is a force majeure.

Symptoms of Laziness
(found footage)
2016 – ongoing collection


Disruptive laziness is a way to (re) claim your own time. It opens up the possibility to disrupt or slow down every day routine processes that are forced upon you and resists the need for outcomes. It is as a ‘petty act of disobedience’, a lazy, informal, every-day resistant practice. We summit to do it in a conscious and subconscious way.

I consider resistance to be an essential quality of laziness, because it inspires doing things differently. Still there is a significant difference between employing laziness as an active radical form of resistance and resistant laziness that offers and creates new ways of being/thinking.

While the first is an disturbing act of deliberate non-participation and is an active form of protest or refusal or not doing, which places oneself opposed to the system, the second is active and works with and within the system, while resisting its dominant structure. That is why I call it inventive laziness.


I believe Laziness can be a source of inventiveness. This is the kind of laziness that I prefer and advocate, as it is constructive and provides fruitful soil for ingenuity and an alternative productivity. Laziness is a way to get around the obligatory and to make processes effective. It does the job, satisfies the need, strengthens the strategy!

This Laziness provides freedom of thought and action, the freedom to overthrow the conventional utilities, the freedom to skip stages, and hack actions. Hacking is an important tool for survival of sanity in our era.


It is the combination of disruptiveness & inventiveness, which make the formula for
productive laziness.

element of disruptiveness & element of inventiveness
+ element of laziness = productive laziness

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