Episode 1 - What is your Work? - Thursday 08.04.2021
Episode 1: What is your Work? will be accessible for 24 hours, from 08.04.2021 00:00 till 09.04.2021 00:00.
online via www.kunsthal.gent and on instagram live via @kunsthalgent, @philippinehoegen, @arp_works, and @daretoknow.
For this first episode titled WHAT IS YOUR WORK?, Philippine Hoegen, Julia Reist and Miriam Hempel gathered a multitude of voices and perspectives around people’s definitions of, and their personal relationships to, work. The different responses were assembled in a collage of sound and visuals which takes the audience through a multifaceted exploration of Work: its definitions and its values, its influence on our identity, as well as the ability and access to work, contracts and salaries, the exhaustion, rewards and frustrations that work can bring.
With thanks to Anna, Anita, Benjamin, Carlos, Danielle, Diana, Gabriella, Gosie, Gwen, Jija, Jim, Katrien, Katy, Kevin, Lulu, Maria, Mirra, Portia, Renee, Tim, Sebastian, Sergine, Youssef
How do we regard work, our own work, the conditions of that work and our own identity through work?
During the past period, many people have expressed the need to reposition themselves to their own preconceptions of their work and working conditions. The pandemic changed a lot of peoples working formats, some changed or lost their jobs, many adjusted to completely new formats and contexts. We are curious what the reverberations of these experiences over time will be. And what deeper or more fundamental issues these reconsiderations expose.
Some people are confronted with their own work addictions, some took time to change habits, some found their habits reinforced.
Many people were cooking, sewing, carpentering or caring for another person and found this to be the best work they ever did. In our current social and economic system, these are the least valued forms of labour, so we can see appearing a huge gap between what is valued and what gives gratification.
Is it possible to break old structures or will we get stuck in the vacuum of redefinition? The coming period will be the proof of the pudding, therefore it will be an essential time to talk and reflect with each other, to provoke each other not to forget all those realisations and simply slip back into the old normal. Instead we aim to draw some conclusions from the experiences we are having and have had and, aligning the personal with the political, explore the potential for change.
22.04.2021, 14.00 - 18.00 / Episode 2: Work Performance and Performing Work
Shortly after the first lock down I was involved in a performance at the Beursschouwburg that took place without an audience. There were only performers, and as performers we were also our audience. And it was magical. Oh dear! Is it possible that we will find out we no longer need them? Or is that not the point at all? Is it rather about reconsidering what it is to be an audience – to witness, to spectate. And by the same token, what is it, to perform?
A nurse working in a retirement home remarked that he now not only has to perform the role of medical worker, but – in their absence because of the lock down - also that of a relative or loved one.
We perform when we work, and work is a performance. We conjure versions of ourselves to meet the demands of the new roles that are necessitated, without knowing in advance what these versions induce within the infrastructure of ourselves.
For this episode, we would like to deeply examine shifting perceptions and experiences of forms of performativity within and beyond the arts – meaning also how performativity has entered into the working practices and gestures of people who don’t normally identify as performers, and the repercussions of that on performing in the arts.
06.05.2021, 14.00 - 18.00 / Episode 3: What is the Value of Work?
For this episode, we will go deeper into the valorisation of work, of labour, something that is problematic in the cultural field, but certainly also beyond. The complete negligence shown by the government during the pandemic towards, for example, sex workers, the ignorance of the realities of working conditions of people working in care etc., are the results of longstanding valorisation systems based on patriarchal, neo-liberal standards.
Within the arts, this is a subject that State of the Arts has been working on for a long time, so we will certainly draw on that knowledge and would like to involve certain SOTA collaborators in this part of the research. But we would also want to take it beyond the cultural field and find interlocutors from familiar with working conditions in f.e. care and sex work.
Working on SOS Relief since its launch in April, we have seen unprecedented testimonies of appreciation for the arts and those who work in art, from people who donated within the project. We are curious if a shift in attention for / involvement in f.e. domestic work could also cause a shift in the discourse of valorisation and appreciation of such labour.
SOS Relief was created as a concrete gesture or experiment in solidarity, wealth redistribution, thinking about how to transform our society into one which is fairer for all. For this episode we will look for these kinds of forms of resistance, or ways of working against existing structures.