Manual Labours: The Complaining Body, The Showroom, London


In April 2016 Manual Labours presented a week-long programme of events and new commissions at The Showroom by artist Sarah Browne, choreographer Hamish MacPherson and writer Ivor Southwood.

Manual Labours: The Complaining Body is initiated by Sophie Hope and Jenny Richards in partnership with The Showroom; In Certain Places, Preston; and Movement, Worcester. Developed from a series of workshops with call centre workers in a London Borough Council, commuters on a train station platform, and University staff dealing with student complaints, Manual Labours: The Complaining Body explores the physical and emotional effects of complaining, receiving complaints and not being able to complain in the context of work.

At The Showroom, Sarah Browne presents a new film Report to an Academy, drawing from the Kafka story of the time title, exploring the contemporary academic environment as a neoliberal workplace. Ivor South-wood launches his essay, The Uncomplaining Body, which investigates the culture of a large workplace from the perspective of an outsourced temporary cleaner/porter; and Hamish MacPherson examines the rituals of complaining through Breastbeating – a card game simulating an after-work pub session, a performance workshop and a games evening.

Events programme:
Wednesday 6 April, 6.30–8.30pm: Film screening followed by a discussion between artists Sarah Browne and Saoirse Wall

Thursday 7 April, 6.30–8.30pm: A complaining games night curated by Hamish MacPherson

Sunday 10 April, 12–4pm: Complaining workshop and performance with Hamish MacPherson and 3–6pm: Exhibition closing event.

This project is developed in partnership with The Showroom, London; In Certain Places, Preston and Movement and Division of Labour, Worcester, and supported by Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts, The Elephant Trust, The Birkbeck/Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund and Birkbeck University Widening Access.