Mono Men

They are everywhere in Tokyo: security guards at construction sites. Come rain or shine, they are always there. Their perseverance is as absurd as it is admirable. 

About the project

The age of teinen, the Japanese word for retirement, is 62. However, retiring in Japan does not mean the same thing as in Europe. Teinen marks the end of ‘lifetime employment’ but not a complete withdrawal from the labour force. This transitional arrangement is designed to free up jobs for younger workers. 

What’s more, if you have spent your entire career working six days a week and most of your social life has revolved around work, retirement is akin to social isolation. 

Visualising a small, everyday subject that examines a larger phenomenon is an approach that Simone Mudde and Olivier van Breugel have previously applied to projects such as McHotel (2012) and Between Screens (2014). Mono Men (2016) is a series of monumental videos about endlessness and boredom. The dedication with which the guards perform their monotonous work raises questions about the meaning and perception of time. 

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MonoMen at Fotodok in Utrecht

We are happy to announce that MonoMen will be part of the exhibtion Why Work? at Fotodok in Utrecht. The exhibition will show a new installation form showing all five of the video's. The show opens on the 9th of March and will run until the 27th of May. 

More info on


Mono Men has been generously supported by:

Mondriaan Foundation | Ernie Romers & Jacqueline Schellekens. .

Thanks for your help during the process:

Ran Kokubun, Aya Nakashima, Yumi Goto, Mitsuko Nagone.
David Stevens, Rob Willemsen, Piet Mudde.
Arthur Herrman, Aline Knip, Simon Burer, Jaap Scheeren, Felix van Breugel, Florian Braakman, Peter de Krom.


Paradox (Bas Vroege & Laura van Rijs)