When spectators work, workers observe

The beginning is the last part to be created
16 Nov 2014 – 6 Jan 2015
Kunsthuis SYB

A project curated by Marianna Liosi and Alessandra Saviotti in collaboration with Marcel Dickhage and Cathleen Schuster

During six weeks residency, Cathleen Schuster and Marcel Dickhage together with curators, audience and the several guests invited will develop a collective script for a film essay, a new commission to be produced during their stay. Ying Que (Casco), Angela Serino and Maja Bekan (Bodies at Work) will be part of the week ends public programme at SYB and engage in discussions, talks and presentations generating a dialogic process, in which spectators are asked to actively intervene. Among these, a reading group and film screening session will be co-curated together with Jenny Richards (Manual Labours).

Work to Work it Out part of WORK IT OUT, Kuva , University of Helsinki (2014)
A five day KUNO Course Workshop for students from across Baltic Universities.

Manual Labours presented a full day workshop that investigated what it is we mean by work and how does our understanding of work its categorisation and value impact our bodies and lives. This workshop drew on the project ‘Manual Labours’ by Sophie Hope and Jenny Richards which explores people’s physical relationships to work.

Through a series of exercises, readings and discussion we collectively Worked to Work it Out which considering how our personal economies of paid and unpaid work relate to larger organisations of labour. The workshop drew on feminist strategies for consciousness-raising allowing us to ask we might build common ground to collectively address our conditions of work. The focus on discursive processes and long-term working within the development of artistic research projects will question how these types of enquiry can find a foothold in the exhibition space and how we might approach making public processes that are intimate and intangible.

Following the workshops we held a public screening of Marianne Flotron’s film Work (2012) and Sistren Theatre Collective’s Sweet Sugar Rage (1985). Whilst two films set in very different contexts, both seek to develop collective practices of investigation into Work and find strategies in which the resonances of these methods can become visible and have an ongoing relevance to a wider public in the process of film making.

Sweet Sugar Rage by The Sistren Theatre Collective sensitively narrates the gendered exploitation of women on a sugar cane estate in Jamaica. Through theatrical methods of re-staging the women display the potential of working collectively to educate and transform their situation. Marianne Flotron’s WORK (2011) brings the Theatre of Oppressed to the employees of a multinational insurance company based in the Netherlands. The Theatre of Oppressed is originally invented in Brazil to unmask totalitarian political strategies and to develop ways of resistance. It functions as a democratizing tool using the means of participatory theatre. Through role play, interview and discussion WORK follows the challenging process of working collaboratively in this environment and how this offers insights into their structures of work.

Sistren Theatre Collective (Sistren) began in 1977 as an Independent Cultural organization of working class women who employed popular theatre techniques in their exploration and analysis of the social, political and legal condition and status of Jamaican women. Sistren uses personal testimonies as a critique of a system, which discriminated against women on the basis of gender, class and colour.

Marianne Flotron (Switzerland,1970) currently lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. In her work she is mainly interested in the interrelationship between political and economical systems and human behavior. She had her first institutional solo exhibition at the Kunsthalle Bern in 2011.