Dates: 18-19 May 2013
Place: Westbroekpark, Den Haag; ADA, Rotterdam.
Artists: Andrea Büttner, Harun Farocki, Romana Schmalisch and Robert Schlicht, Kymberley Ward, Želimir Žilnik
Image credit: Westbroekpark, Den Haag, photo credit: Maja Bekan
Is art work or not work? Do we work too much because life itself has become ‘occupied’ by constant activity that makes obsolete the division between free time and work? Are we able to listen to the demands of our finite body in front of the infinite demands placed upon it? Do you also dream to retire in order to fully enjoy your life?
These are the starting questions of “I Want to Retire” a two-day public events to introduce “Bodies at Work*”, a collaborative research project by Maja Bekan and Angela Serino.
“I Want to Retire” comprised the collective action “Reading while Rowing” at Westbroekpark, Den Haag, and a film-screening at ADA, Area for Debate and Art in Rotterdam.
On MAY 18, 15:00h, READING while rowing (Den Haag, Westbroekpark)
We invite you to spend the afternoon together in the beautiful Rosarium part of Westbroekpark, just a few tram stops from Central Station or Holland Spoor.
In a picnic-like setting we will read and comment together excerpts of “Work”, by Norwegian philosopher Lars Svendsen and of “Don’t Smile, Organise” by British writer and philosopher Nina Power, while attempting to row in the local lake.
This reading-rowing session will be followed by Kymberley Ward’s short presentation of “It doesn’t cost”, a recent project that stemmed from Ward’s employment as a teacher of English language in a factory in Breda. Kymberley Ward is a performance artist currently enrolled in the MA Fine Arts at Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam.
Tea, coffee, orange juice and biscuits will be offered during the afternoon.
May 19, FILM SCREENING (Rotterdam, ADA, Rotterdam)
On Sunday, after the physical and mental exercise on Saturday, we invite you to join us for an evening of film and video screening focused on different stories of workers’ life, places of work and attitudes towards one’s own occupation.
This evening we will also introduce briefly “Bodies at Work”, our collaborative project that is developed at IFP, Institute for Provocation in Beijing (China) starting from July 2013.
Film 1: Little Sisters Lunapark Ostia, Andrea Büttner, 42 min, UK, 2012
The work features a sisterhood of nuns who work in a small amusement park near Rome, and shows the artist asking the nuns questions related to value, happiness and spirituality as they ride on rollercoaster and fish for prizes. This film was presented at Documenta 13 Kassel in 2012.
Film 2: A New Product, Harun Farocki, 36 min, Germany, 2012
Over the period of one year Harun Farocki joined the meetings of the Quickborner Team, a business consultancy in Hamburg, as they developed a new consultancy product. The QT specializes in organizational building planning and property management (meaning the design of workspaces, offices and social zones). Farocki filmed the QT’s internal meetings, as well as meetings with clients. The resulting documentation/ film focuses on the practice of future forecasting in commercial consultation at a time of upheaval, wherein consultancy is itself examining the procedures of decision-making that constitute corporate branding.
Film 3: The Way Steel Was Tempered, Želimir Žilnik, 101 min, Yugoslavia, 1988
This feature film is one of the most important works by Želimir Žilnik, a Serbian film director and one of the major figures of the ‘Yugoslavian Black Wave’. It focuses on the story of Leo, a worker employed in a steel factory and follows him in his personal turmoil and the socio-political agitations that surround him, until his return to the native country with a surprising and unexpected happy-ending.
Film 4: Recitando, Romana Schmalisch and Robert Schlicht, 35 min, Germany, 2010
This film is the documentation of an encounter between workers from the Moscow paper factory “October” and two filmmakers from abroad. The paper production process which seems to be captured in documentary shots is staged for the camera by the workers, since the factory does not produce anything at the moment – and this non production is the condition for their appearance as actors in the film. Here, indeed, the workers recount and reflect upon their current situation – being filmed instead of producing paper – in a series of Brechtian chorus scenes. Punctuated by intertitles citing discussions within the Soviet film avant-garde of the 1920s, the film reflects upon the relation of cinematographic image and reality, and of artistic and industrial production.
*“Bodies at Work” is a collaborative research project by Maja Bekan & Angela Serino examining and voicing what kind(s) of “work” it is that art and cultural workers do. What is their relationship to time and space, how and for whom they work, how they balance their private, social and professional life, and what are the advantages and pitfalls of such circumstances. Involving various collaborations, “Bodies at work” enfolds itself trough small-scale performances, lectures, conversations and printed materials.