In an open exchange together with curator Zippora Elders, Werker Collective will share insights such as notes and testimonies gathered by the study group. The event is set up as an open conversation and a collective rehearsal of strategies that are aimed at abolishing labour as we know it.
“Workers are Queer. This is both a critical and a futuristic proposal. Throughout history, workers and queers have been pitted against each other. Right-wing regimes and politicians worldwide appeal to workers as a beacon of stability and tradition while depicting queers as a threat to traditional values. Opposing workers’ interests with the interests of LGBTQIA+ and feminists movements has been a remarkable characteristic of the international left as well. Werker Collective, simultaneously inspired by the emancipatory politics of the labour movement and by the body liberationist politics of the radical queers and feminists offers yet another kind of smychka*, that is a utopian synthesis of work and desire.”
*In early Soviet political vocabulary, the word smychka indicated the drive towards collaboration and union in society.)
Excerpt from: Smychka of Work and Desire. A Gestural History of the Young Worker. Georgy Mamedov and Werker Collective, 2019.
The installation A Gestural History of the Young Worker, on view from 18 November until 17 December 2023 at the Gropius Bau as part of the public programme for the exhibition General Idea, was first conceptualised for the 5th Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art in Yekaterinburg (Russia) in 2019. The work has faced restrictive censorship several times over the past four years in Russia, with conditions becoming more dramatic and destabilising over time.
Werker Collective operates at the intersection of labour, ecofeminism and the LGBTQIA+ movements, advocating for an image critique of daily life to analyse what becomes visible and what remains hidden or silenced in different political contexts. The art collective, initiated by Marc Roig Blesa and Rogier Delfos in Amsterdam in 2009, released ten issues of a publication called Werker Magazine. Since then, Werker Collective has explored a variety of media, including installation, performance, video, sound, textile and digital publishing, and has also developed community projects, reading groups, cine-clubs, radio podcasts and publishing workshops.