c/ Sant Adrià, 20. 08030 Barcelona 932 566 155
Whith the projects of:
Francesc Abad · Amics de la Fabra i Coats · Octavi Comeron · Marion Cruza i Pablo Marte · Raquel Friera · Soy cámara - Ingrid Guardiola, Andrés Hispano i Félix Pérez-Hita · Asociación de Parados de Casería de Montijo, estudiants de la Universitat de Granada, Torreón i FAAQ · Left Hand Rotation · Rogelio López Cuenca · Montserrat Moliner · Julia Montilla · Marc Pataut · María Ruido · Allan Sekula.
Transitory processes transmit a lack of security, definition and stability, as they involve a change from one status to another, while attempting to clarify what is being left behind and testing out pathways that may lead us to a kind of desired future. Within the framework of Living In-between we have proposed two inter-related phases of the In Transition programme: the first focusing on the city space and the second on the work space. The two are approached from the angle of artistic practices in connection with the social space, and from the uncertain potential projected by transitory stages. But the two also overlap at the same exhibition space, with one being constructed on the tracks of the other. In Transition-City was presented previously, and part of it has been maintained; now, In Transition-Work is being superimposed upon it, incorporating a new layer to be added to the representation of a complex network of interconnected realities. The transition of production mechanisms affects both spaces of the city and the ways in which and places where work is carried out.
This second part, focusing on work, is clearly opportune because of the venue where it is being presented in exhibition format, Fabra i Coats, an old textile (spinning) mill currently in the process of conversion into an art centre and nursery for cultural productions. Creativity, talent and innovation are the keywords that aim to direct this transition towards success, words that moreover suffer from wear and tear and co-option by neoliberal technology and the creative industries. The venue space itself symbolises the transformation of the material work of serialised production lines to the immateriality and singularity of creative and symbolic production. A space that in turn constitutes a renewed urban context that, in its new configuration, is striving to reconnect with the neighbourhood. Industrial workers used to live in the neighbourhood and the site formed part of that same habitat: meanwhile cultural workers are usually in transit, some more connected than others to the work context, but their provisional presence is the result of the temporary stay typical of all artistic residencies, and this accentuates their status as visitors in a local context.
In Transition-Work is a foray into a broad and complex subject, which is structured here around a limited selection of works and projects that have been completed or are in progress. All of them are produced by artists that have proposed a specific approach to the contemporary dimensions of the work. These multiple dimensions are what are currently in the midst of the transformation process, both of their own nature and of everything surrounding them. And the fact is that in a country where the unemployment rate is the second highest in the European Union (19.6% in July 2016), any reflection, any element that contributes towards making more visible the causes, consequences or effects of this imbalance becomes a political action, due to its potential both as a criticism and as a proposal.
Neoliberalism triumphed when it captured the desires of the workers to free themselves of the restraints and restrictions of Fordism, although they then fell into the clutches of consumerism, which is what maintains the current system (Fisher, 2016: 146). Production systems and work processes are deeply implicated in the way in which everyday life is reproduced through consumption (Harvey, 2012: 105). The working class has lost its capacity for action because it is no longer concentrated in industrial spaces as it was previously; now, the production space is a de-territorialised space, and this has contributed to the breakdown of the working class, and also to a reorganisation of the spaces of the city. The city is a space of both production and consumption. The conversion of former work centres into monuments, information centres or museumized spaces is part of the process of spectacularization and touristification of cities. Inhabitants and tourists have become co-producers of symbolic capital, in a globalised context (through photographs, videos, comments shared on the networks, by their own geolocated presence, etc.), and also consumers of local services and global products alike. Although the yields of this productive space for cultural dissemination very clearly benefit the tourism industry and the trade of transnational brands, they have very little benefit for contemporary cultural production linked to the city. Culture generated in context can act as a corrective element in this tension between the production of local culture and the globalised extraction of traditional culture. The benefits generated by this exploitation of city habitats should be diversified in such a way that they have repercussions in research and the production of contemporary contents in the relationship between culture and territory. Often, “creative talent” is used as a low-cost spearhead in urban transformation operations, which contemplate forced displacements more typical of property speculation (gentrification).
The transformation of the working factory and assembly lines into an art factory also sets the scene for the appearance of new paradigms related with work or the lack of salaried work, and its repercussions on people’s quality of life, as well as on the spaces that they inhabit. Flexibility, autonomy, the multiplication of work spaces and their liberation in relation to the physical space, dependency on times that do not distinguish between social reproduction and working hours, robotisation, de-localisation, casualization, loss of purchasing power and the de-regulation of labour rights, among other factors, configure an entire series of values and elements that are related with the evolution and adaptability of capitalism, the changes implemented through neoliberal policies and the consequences that influence the distancing and dualisation of the social classes.
Culture in the guise of contemporary art, has been one of the activities that has fought most to achieve high degrees of freedom, self-management of own working time and non-subjection to certain orders and life canons, remaining outside the mechanisms of production, contributing and seeking other values that go beyond production criteria. But all these values, driven in a revolutionary way by the first vanguards and the fruitful 1960s, have been completely absorbed by neoliberal ideologies, and driven in favour of the dominant classes of financial capitalism, all configured into the new individual values that the system itself demands. In societies where work is scarce, it becomes a desired space riddled with ferocious competition, frustrations and vulnerability. One of the taboos associated with work in the contexts of flexible capitalism is the notion of failure (Sennett, 2000: 124), a concept that is omitted in the handbooks for success. It is evident that the social stigma of not being able to resolve the labour guarantees of the people living in a territory, beyond recognising that the established system is failing, or of re-thinking structures, is distributed among the individuals involved, converting a problem of a systemic nature into a personal problem. Feelings of failure lead to invisibility and de-socialisation and contribute to the disarticulation of possible mobilisations against insufficient policies or failed systems.
Leaving society’s most vulnerable members unprotected, promoting competition and strengthening values such as productivity, performance, innovation and adaptability, etc., is a way of controlling the organised protests of those who are evidenced to be the losers. The impossibility of reducing these rates, without even further jeopardising the income and therefore increasing the incapacity to consume of a high percentage of the population, in itself constitutes a threat for the capitalist system itself. Capitalism can subsist with few workers, but it cannot subsist without consumers. This is why the concept of a guaranteed minimum income or universal basic income (or citizen’s wage) is contemplated as something more than a utopia, in a context where social work (understood as the quantity of work carried out for others through a market system based on exchange value) is tending to become weaker. To maintain growth it is necessary to consume what is produced, and in a none-too-distant future scenario, many jobs, many professions, will no longer be needed, and a large part of the world’s population is becoming disposable, from the perspective of capital (Harvey, 2014: 118). According to David Harvey, this makes one suppose that fictitious forms of capital will increase, founded on credit systems and fetishistic constructs of value; similar or more evolved forms of what were known as hedge funds. Basic income is defined as the right of all citizens to receive a regular sum that covers all the vital necessities, without any service rendered in return. If work, structured by knowledge and cooperation, is increasingly more social and difficult to quantify, then remuneration cannot be linked to a specific work activity and must involve income redistribution and not merely wage-paying. Ultimately, capitalism is sustained on enormous quantities of unpaid work: all the work necessary for the reproduction of life, which the patriarchy assigns mainly to women, is not only not remunerated, but is not even considered as work.
These appreciations, which to some extent connect with the critical traditions of libertarian thought, autonomism, post-colonialism and feminism, share to one measure or another the rejection of work as the organising core of society and situate at its centre the sustaining of life itself. At a time when social inequalities are tending to expand and the risk of exclusion is tending to increase, and in which the weaknesses of the welfare state are being made evident, the option of income redistribution, not just the receiving of a salary linked to a specific work activity, is growing. A society based on knowledge, know-how and cooperation must propose other forms of income distribution not merely based on salary. The discussion of these types of considerations is proposed as a new social right, in a context where income from work is decreasing, in contrast with the increase in income from capital itself. The intervention of governments and public bodies to balance and reduce the inequalities that all this brings with it is a subject that is on the discussion table as a grave problem needing to be resolved (Piketty, 2014.
The turn from Fordism to post-Fordism, or from disciplinary societies to societies of control, has led to an intensification of the desire for consumer goods that are financed or on credit. One of the challenges is how to deploy actions that prevent the predatory practices that facilitate social inequality, the consolidation of joblessness, technological disqualification or the degradation of the environment, all as part of a context marked by the polarised tension between ultra-connection and disconnection between work and life. Lives that will be constructed based on instability and successive job changes, lives whose work will consist in being permanently available, merging domestic space and work space, and lives that will not be able to be channelled at highly competitive paces and with scarce opportunities. Lives that will also take advantage of the weaknesses of other living conditions, and that will continue to contribute to the tendency towards social inequality.
In some way, the base elements that have laid the foundations for the practice of art in the 20th century, including the most critical movements, are now some of the base elements of a contemporary capitalist society, which identifies itself with slogans such as creativity, flexibility, adaptability, independence, autonomy, etc. Part of art has been absorbed by this turn, like the majority of new labour occupations, while another part is fighting to remain positioned outside of this spiral. An important part of contemporary artistic production leaves aside object production and deploys other production systems and mechanisms of an immaterial and processual nature. In fact, contemporary production is founded on the execution of projects. Projects are the expression of a desire for the future expressed in a conceptual, graphic and budgetary way, which pursues the objective of being able to be executed. The fact that hardly anything can be carried out without a prior project means that a large part of the work consists in drawing up projects. The logic of the project converts a large part of that enormous sum of work into something that is useless, as many of the projects drafted will never see the light of day. According to Boris Groys, the aesthetic project has substituted the work of art, understanding art to mean the documentation of a “life-as-a-project” (individual or collective projects for diverse futures), independently of the results (Groys, 2014: 77). The documentation of processes, the mapping, the archives, the time records, are all formal manifestations of life as a project that, in many cases, acquire a will for influence and a desire for change. If work is defined as all activity that produces objects or services that have a use value (Thévenot, Barès, 2000: 55) and usefulness consists of contributing something that interests everyone else (Sennett, 2006: 61), then artistic production does not escape this social usefulness, but nor does it escape from similarity with political action, in the sense of the planning and transformation of possible futures.
This exhibition aims to place in relation urban and territorial transformations with forms of work organisation, understanding that the two completely overlap. How new uses of spaces are the result of foregoing conquests and fights, but also of the future projections planned around them. In the most immediate past, substantial changes have been introduced, not only concerning forms of production but also in returns on capital, the distribution of wealth and the social effects that all of this causes. In the contemporary context, this has acquired intercontinental dimensions and for some time we have been seeing how production spaces are being delocalised to other places that enjoy less protection on a trade union and a social level. One of the concepts that David Harvey has introduced to explain how the accumulation of capital constructs a geography made to measure for its needs is what he calls the “spatial fix”. Capital displaces the problems, but it never resolves them. And it does this on a global level, transferring production spaces to places where it can better cash in on and multiply capital surpluses. One of the effects is to specialise territories and hierarchize them, so that a place whose main production is relegated to global tourism does not have the same power as a place where the main financial control is concentrated, or another that is a provider of natural resources, or another that is a facilitator of cheap labour. All of this has clear effects on the use, habitability and projection of city spaces.
The transition from working neighbourhood to creative neighbourhood categorically exemplifies the change of paradigm. Art, traditionally, has documented and taken an interest in the work culture. This exhibition contains contributions from some artists who, along these lines, have an influence that is more political, in a critical and propositional way, in understanding and working on the very concept of work, and its relationships with spaces.
Bouza, Fermín (coord.) (2000). Les cultures del treball. Barcelona: Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona.
Boltanski, Luc; Chiapello, Ève (2002). El nuevo espíritu del capitalismo. Madrid: Ediciones Akal.
Castells, Antoni (1993). Les col·lectivitzacions a Barcelona, 1936-1939. Barcelona: Hacer.
Fernández Duran, Ramón (2010). La quiebra del capitalismo global: 2000-2030. Madrid: Libros en Acción-Virus-Baladre-CGT.
Fisher, Mark (2016). Realismo Capitalista. ¿No hay alternativa? Buenos Aires: Caja Negra.
Groys, Boris (2014). Volverse público. Las transformaciones del arte en el ágora contemporánea. Buenos Aires: Caja Negra.
Harvey, David (2012). El enigma del capital y las crisis del capitalismo. Madrid: Ediciones Akal.
Harvey, David (2014). Diecisiete contradicciones y el fin del capitalismo. Madrid: IAEN-Traficantes de Sueños.
Pisarello, Gerardo; De Cabo, Antonio (eds.) (2006). La renta básica como nuevo derecho ciudadano. Madrid: Trotta.
Sennett, Richard (2000). La corrosión del carácter. Las consecuencias personales del trabajo en el nuevo capitalismo. Barcelona: Anagrama.
Sennett, Richard (2006). La cultura del nuevo capitalismo. Barcelona: Anagrama.
Thévenot, Jacques; Bàres, Franck (2000). «Les transformacions del treball». En: Fermín Bouza (coord.), Les cultures del treball. Barcelona: Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona.
Landscape & Prosthesis, 1990
Donation by the artist to the La Panera Art Centre, 2012 Jaume Morera Art Museum, Lleida
For Francesc Abad, art is a form of resistance. It is the medium for positioning oneself in a critical way in contemporary times, developed based on an interest towards and a reading of the collective memory. Since his beginnings in the Work Group up to his most recent works, the theme of production mechanisms, from both the art perspective and that of looking at the spaces of the production economy, has had a reiterated presence. He has defended the view that the artist is a labourer of culture, and as such has a role to play in the social context. At the same time he has developed his work as an artist outside the art market’s production mechanisms and, at some point, has defined himself as a cultural assistant. From the factory as a place for industrial production to the factory as cultural heritage, is a transition that has been suffered by many municipalities peripheral to the city of Barcelona. Landscapes created based on industrialisation processes that are now becoming landscapes of memory and landscapes for conversion into places of capitalised culture. In Landscape & Prosthesis, the image and the written word are combined. The work makes reference to the town of L’Hospitalet, configured as a “prosthesis” to the industrial growth of Barcelona. The rural spaces that surrounded Barcelona gradually disappeared, making way for a new landscape. The transformation from rural landscape to industrial landscape, and from industrial landscape to cultural landscape, always become orthopaedic prosthetics that clearly affect the people who lived, are living or will live in the territory where desires for the future are projected. The only way of remembering that natural environment or those factories at full production is through the written word. The word is fragile because its meaning often wears down, and without words the collective memory ceases to exist.
From Fabra i Coats Yarns to Art Factory
A selection of images that illustrate the site’s working past, as well as some of the community activities held there, exhibited in relationship with current images of the spaces after conversion into an Art Factory. The historical images come from the archive of the Association of Friends of Fabra i Coats, and those of the current site are by Xavier Gil and the Living In-between team. The members of the Association of Friends of Fabra i Coats are ex-workers from the company. The Association’s objective is to promote and collaborate in the recovery, conservation and dissemination of the historical memory linked to the textile industry and, in particular, the importance of the textile industry and specifically that of the factory site in the neighbourhood’s social fabric, and its relationship with the city, as well as in the Catalan industrial context. Fabra i Coats as an Art Factory of Barcelona is defined as a cultural facility designed to give support to creativity, talent and innovation in the city. Its objective is to link the most promising emerging creation with different social collectives, while it aims to become a space with international projection. In this series of images that illustrate the transition of the spaces in relationship with the transition of the work concept, we want to highlight the image of the cover of the magazine Ideas, edited by Hilaturas Fabra y Coats and published during the process of company collectivization in July 1936. The process of collectivization of companies, as well as workers’ groups, began in a more or less spontaneous way driven by workers from different branches and sectors during the Second Spanish Republic period, and accelerated following the coup d’état of 18 July 1936. The Catalan Government aimed to regulate the process with the Decree on the Collectivization of Industries and Commerce. This was a process that affected some 70%-80% of companies with over 100 workers, meaning that production and sales became self-managed by the workers themselves. Although the objectives could not be fully achieved, this was one of the most radical transformations of Catalonia’s economic, social and cultural life. It generated a new model for socialisation of work processes and the redistribution of income, as well as the collectivisation of the workers’ social and cultural lives.
Huertas del Río Beiro Public Agricultural Park (Casería de Montijo, Granada), 2012-in process
The Huertas del Río Beiro Public Agricultural Park stands as an example of collaboration between diverse groups – university students, architects, artists, organisations of unemployed people and local residents – for the appropriation of the territory and the creation of mutual support structures that are articulated through cultural and relationship as well as production practices, specifically in the agro-ecological production environment. Launched at the end of 2012 following a sit-in carried out by the Association of Unemployed People of Casería de Montijo, a neighbourhood in the northern district of the city of Granada, the project constitutes a collective and organised response to a situation of unemployment that the predominant ideology tends to individualise, ultimately blaming the people who suffer it. It is through this subjectification process that the project brings together community forms of relating and cooperating in order to sustain life and the territory.
The Back of the Fabric, 2009
Map of Mataró formed part of the project The Back of the Fabric, conceived following the holding of the workshop Alternative Routes: Now/here Mataró (Can Xalant-Idensitat, 2008). A working group that emerged from the meeting, made up of Roser Caminal, Ismael Cabezudo, Laura Marte, Cecilia Postiglioni, Daniela Ortiz and Anna Recasens, worked with Rogelio López-Cuenca on research to delimit an “alternative” geography of the city that would allow a tour through its local history in a way that offers a record of aspects that are usually contemplated in an isolated manner. Thus then, the recurring history of the textile industry in Mataró is interwoven with the crisis of industrial capitalism or the globalisation of the markets, but also, and above all, with the way in which the power is embodied in individuals’ lives and bodies — in the form, for example, of mass migration caused by the demand for cheap labour, the trafficking of slaves towards the colonies, or the incorporation of women into the paid employment market. In its form the map implies a rejection of authoritarian and linear narratives, and thus offers a plan on which to develop readings and possible routes around the territory’s memory.
ZONA FRANCA: del muelle de carga al call centre , 2009 Video, 20 min
What role do free-trade areas play in the spatial arrangements of globalised capital? In recent years there has been generalisation of the idea that the manufacturing industry no longer constitutes the productive base of advanced capitalist societies but if we consider the total services outsourced to companies as part of industrial activity, this affirmation turns out to be less clear; even more so if we take into account the connection of these services with the financial and property markets. At Barcelona’s Zona Franca Free Trade Area, some heavy industries – now residual –coexist with the inhabitable areas that they gave rise to and with the clean industries of information capitalism, which obtain fiscal benefits for making this part of the city attractive for investments that generate new zones for services and housing. While the stevedores are still unloading cargo and the workers are leaving the factory, the big containers are piling up on the docks and the new transnational proletariat are entering the call centre.
PostFordist Trilogy I– The Transparent Factory
MACBA Collection. MACBA Consortium. Donation by the Heirs of Octavi Comeron In the year 2001, in the Germany city of Dresden, Volkswagen inaugurated the production plant for its high-end Phaeton model. The plant was christened as Die Gläserne Manufaktur (‘the transparent factory”). Covered in glass and with parquet flooring, it converted production and worker activity into a stage for viewing by customers and visitors. The Gläserne Manufaktur is a factory and a theatre, a continuous chain that produces vehicles and dramatizes that production, offering it as a show. The Comeron trilogy about post-Fordism points out some places, such as the transparent factory, where the forms of work, the production of subjectivity and the ideology are interwoven in a complex way, showing us a work and consumption space that is spectacular, transparent and aseptic, a place where antagonism seems to be impossible.
Sunday Every Day, 2016
For many people, the state of unemployment brings crisis to the habits and structures of evaluation that define them as socially useful individuals, based on which they have constructed their identity. Under neoliberalism, work and its reverse, unemployment, constitute forms of subjectification that allow a social problem to be reduced to one of an individual nature. Thus then, the stigma of being unemployed functions as a device of governance that holds people individually responsible for their “failure”; in this way they psychologise and naturalise poverty and unemployment, which they attribute to a lack of entrepreneurship and capacity for adaptation, at the same time that they are presented as inevitable developments, as catastrophic phenomena, and not as the result of an unfair production regime and social order. In the summer of 1996, a group of unemployed people in Berlin organised themselves under the name Die Glücklichen Arbeitslosen (‘The Happy Jobless’). The consideration of unemployment as a happy state, which opens up the possibility of a time and an activity outside remunerated work, subverts a much of this logic and weakens the association between work and salary: if production is always dependent on forms of social cooperation and individuals are always interdependent, then remuneration for work would have to be social and involve income redistribution. Moreover, insofar as the quantity of work necessary for the sustaining of life can not be measured, salary should not be linked to a specific work activity. Twenty years after that summer, Julia Montilla organised a festive meeting at Trinitat Vella, proposed as a “coming out” for unemployment and inspired by the happy jobless experience. Together with the event poster, Julia Montilla shows graphic materials of movements that have questioned the centrality of salaried work, including mobilisations of groups of unemployed French people between November 1997 and April 1998, which culminated in the unemployed people’s assembly on the Jussieu campus in Paris and which generated significant social adhesion.
Tomorrow Goodbye. Group of women who work together, 2016
A series with twelve chapters that researches the production model through which the old tobacco factory became today’s Tabakalera International Contemporary Culture Centre in San Sebastián. Lying in wait, two major questions: what do we need from the past when talking about work? And: How and from where can one talk about memory? The creation of the chapters was accompanied by a programme of meetings, conversations, film screenings and workshops titled After Leaving the Factory, which is based on the off-screen scenes that follow two films that inaugurated the history of cinema in 1895: Train Pulling into a Station and Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory in Lyon, by Louis Lumière. Each of these meetings proposes possible scenes for “after leaving the factory” with the aim of talking about subjects such as cinema and work, work and gender, experience and memory, individual subject and collective subject, or the productive and the non-productive.
Murder Attempt, 2014
Murder Attempt was born from observing the final chapter of the Aconda Factory, a paper processing factory founded in 1945 and known as “The Factory”, in Flaçà. After months of battling to find a way forward, the business closed in the year 2009 leaving 240 people jobless. Since the property was auctioned for the first time in 2014, people from all over, like “worker ants”, began to take away the plant’s machines, its furniture and everything that remained inside. Finally, once it had been dismantled, it was bricked up. The entire affair was a living reflection of the dismantling, precariousness, ingeniousness, neediness and spirit of survival, that emerge after the sensation of isolation, failure and mental saturation caused by the loss of so many jobs in a determined context. This project is an exercise to reconstruct, based on photographs and drawings, some of the different moments in the history of a space that, for an entire village of a little over 1,000 inhabitants, received the name of “The Factory”. It is also a metaphor of the life that resurfaces after the physical death of the buildings, the death of the activities in the spaces created, the death of labour relations and the dismantling that as a society or a community we suffer repeatedly.
Industrial Assembly Lines for the New Century, 2007
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation. Repsol Foundation Collection The work of Marc Pataut is habitually associated with a sphere of activity, a social situation, a story or an intervention within the institutional context. In this case it makes reference to the assembly lines at the SEAT plant in Martorell. At a time in which contemporary cities are investing large sums of money in the knowledge industries, the tourism industries and the show-business sector, with many of them wrapped up in a race towards international competitiveness to generate a recognisable brand and one attractive to people and capital flows Marc Pataut proposes we look towards industrial production. Industry and its productive dynamics associated with the workers of the assembly lines, increasingly robotized, continue to be one of the bases of the capitalist economy, increasingly interested in financial engineering. The Barcelona of design also has a great industrial past, although some years ago it transferred its production spaces to other towns in the metropolitan area, towns that in the era of “developmentalism” grew quickly as working class towns. SEAT is one of the companies that exemplify the connection between Barcelona and the territorial context through industrial production. Initially linked to the La Marina-Zona Franca area, where the buildings built for the workers are still standing today, it is now deployed across the town of Martorell, with a highly technified production line. (This series was produced in 2007 within the photographic project Metropolitan Images of the New Barcelona, carried out within the framework of MACBA’s exhibition Universal Archive. The Condition of the Document and Modern Photographic Utopia.)
The Employment Jungle, 2015-in process
Raquel Friera, through various recent works, is tackling the issue of contemporary work in our social context and from the subjective gender perspective. Questions such as job precariety, people’s dignity in the face of exploitation during times of high competition when seeking employment or non-remunerated domestic and care tasks, are dealt with to evidence degrading situations, as well as the unequal treatment received by many women in the contemporary context. The Employment Jungle is the first chapter of a trilogy titled On the Road to Extinction which is inspired by the series El hombre y la Tierra by Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, broadcast in the 1980s on TVE. The Employment Jungle is devoted to a “species” of people that it is increasingly difficult to find in our society; we could say a kind of rara avis that is, effectively, “on the road to extinction”. We are referring to people who, being unemployed, have rejected a job because they considered it was an affront to their dignity and contravened minimum labour conditions. In the current crisis, who would dare to turn down a job? The stories that are told in these chapters of The Employment Jungle are real stories of people who have collaborated thanks to the mediation of the APAC (Association of Unemployed Active People).
Soy Cámara is a docu-essay audiovisual project that experiments with audiovisual formats by developing a critical perspective towards issues that affect society or culture. It is produced by the Centre for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB), and has recently made a transition passing through its broadcasting on television (TVE2) to its dissemination via the Internet youtube.com/SoyCamaraCCCB). In this process, it is expanding its collaborations and dialogues with universities and outside producers. With these two docu-essays, the authors approach the subject of work and expand on diverse questions related to it. Through the comments of Guy Standing, Yann Moulier-Boutang, Cristina Carrasco, Judy Wajcman and David Harvey, such questions are tackled as the centrality of work in people’s lives, cognitive capitalism, the rise of the precariat, the global market or the sociological bias of work that affects questions of gender, class, race and culture, among others.
1) Why do we work? 20 min, 2016 “They would go to school, then 30 years in the labour market, two years of retirement and they would drop dead”, says Guy Standing. Why do we work? To earn a living or to stop living? Yann Moulier-Boutang delves into the history of work, of exploitation and of the disciplinary domination of capitalism; Guy Standing tackles the precariat (a concept he developed himself) and contemporary labour alienation and Judy Wajcman alerts us to the risk of acceleration at work. If the majority of people are unhappy with their job, why do we continue to put our faith in working? What do the new forms of work tell us about the new forms of social domination? (The question “Why do we work?” was the main subject of the 6th Philosophical Meeting in Barcelona, coordinated by Xavier Bassas and Felip Martí-Jufresa at the CCCB, Arts Santa Mònica and the French Institute from 14 to 16 of October 2015.)
2) Gender and Technology 10 min 15 s, 2016 Neither history nor technology are inoffensive tools. As indicated by sociologist Judy Wajcman, technologies reflect the values and experiences of the people who design them. We could say the same of history in order to understand the lack of women and of people from developing countries, in both the science and technology spheres and in the new spaces for communication such as Wikipedia and even Google. The new technologies are designed by young, white men and Silicon Valley is a pool of these programmers and technological designers, many of whom consider themselves “Randian heroes” in honour of the liberal and individualist theories of Ayn Rand. What consequences can be drawn from this techno-sociological dilemma?
School is a Factory, 1978-1980
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid Between 1976 and 1979, Allan Sekula was teaching history of photography classes at a night class in a community college in South Carolina. This work takes this personal experience as a reference to question the perverse role that is assumed by state schools when offering a professionalising education programme with the promise, rarely fulfilled, of giving the students employment. A work that alternates black and white photographs of the school’s pupils with texts and graphic images, to offer a discourse critical of the capitalist system and of the role that the school has to play within it. One of the first criticisms is that companies refer the training of their workers to the public system, yet many of them relocate their production to developing countries, where they can find cheaper labour. It is also critical with the “formatting of individuals” function that the school takes on, with the aim of integrating them into the social system. The first of the images is clear on this idea: based on the text of one of their head staff, “schools are to a certain extent factories where the raw materials are students who must be trained and moulded like products that will respond to the different demands of contemporary life”. Each of the images, together with the text, allows the viewer to glimpse hidden elements that the author tries to evidence. Subjects such as the relationship between industry and urban speculation, labour precarisation and mobility, the exploitation of immigrants and refugees in the industries, the construction of fictitious desires and ambitions in students, the differentiation of social classes based on training among the workers who take this kind of public training and the elites who go to costly schools, the ephemeral nature of the world of art or the relationship between the art market and capitalist entrepreneurs. The work exposes problematic arguments in the intersection between advanced capitalist society, the specialisation of education, the industrial culture, educational policies and the labour market.
The collectives behind Living in-between:
Idensitat is an art project that experiments with ways of influencing the territory in its spatial, temporal and social dimensions. It has been set up as a system that incorporates other projects, actions and interventions developed in different spaces and contexts. Since 1999 it has promoted activities that combine investigation, production, education and curatorship.
LaFundició is a cooperative that, since 2006, has been developing work processes involving the interweaving of social practice, culture and the collective construction of knowledge.
Sinapsis is a collective for research and production based on collaborative and contextual artistic and cultural practices that, since 2007, has emphasised networking via cultural mediation/negotiation and critical pedagogy.
Transductores is a platform for mediation, investigation and curatorship set up in 2009. It has designed curatorship and mediation processes at a country-wide and international level.