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Arts of the Working Class #29

UNIONS

  • Edition

SORRY, INSUFFICIENT FUNDS! GOODBYE

This issue was created in collaboration with the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, in particular with Anne Vieth, who was the museum's curator until July 2023. In the context of a world whose lines of conflict are overwhelming and complex, she conceived an exhibition that looks back on the “categorization mania” of the Weimar Period (1918-1933), in which German society was searching for new coordinates for orientation. Thus, as an aide mémoire, this issue features images of this exhibition, featuring “workers” seen from the perspective of the “New Objectivity” movement, and it poses the question of which images of workers dominate our imagination today. 

Back then, the worker was depicted as muscular, masculine, filthy, and monstrous or, if unemployed, as a sickly, wan figure. The work of cultural creation and care was not recognized as such within this image of the worker. Today, the complexity of work can no longer be categorized or represented by singular types (indeed, it could not then). 

In this Issue on “Unions”, we have deliberately chosen images that do not always correspond with the classic category of The Worker, and yet we declare them as such. The sleeping sisters on our chapter three cover are also at work, recharging before taking action to create a better world for us all. Kyrgyz painter Semyon Afanasevich Chuikov depicted children of workers joyfully eating melons and Inci Eviner’s photographs, video stills, and drawings interrogate how social forces influence and shape the self on both concrete and abstract levels. AWC understands the “working class” as all those who work. This understanding thus raises the question of how such diverse workers can come together to fight for a just society. Who actually has the right to be considered a worker politically? 

Also with this issue, we conclude this year's focus on “Bursts of Solidarity”. Across five issues, we have considered medium-sized organizations with the potential for practices of solidarity. After Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, Grassroots Organizations, Kinships, and Territories, communities that collectively manage land, we now come to Unions. In classical Marxist theory, labor unions play an ambivalent role; on the one hand, they lead to the necessary collectivization of workers, and, on the other, they merely challenge capitalists without being able to overthrow Capitalism itself.

Through the pages of this publication, we assess a core element of union work: solidarity. Keeping the situation of cultural workers in mind, we look at its elements (chapter 1); examine the tools of division, working against solidarity (chapter 2); and have dreams of future unions (chapter 3). For this issue we hosted our own “Art Workers’ Summit” to pose questions about the future organization of cultural work. Our guests included the Berufsverband Bildender Künstler*innen Berlin (represented by the artist Zoë Claire Miller), Art Workers Italia (represented on this occasion by the artist Alice Pedroletti), and the New Patrons (Die neuen Auftraggeber - represented by the curator Alexander Koch). Our host, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, represented by the curator Eric Golo Stone, also took part. Aiwen Yin and Dana Kopel, whose contributions here take a written form, joined us online. We also invited three artists, Dina El Kaisy Friemuth, Jeronimo Voss, and Marta Stanisława Sala, to document the “Art Workers’ Summit”. Their takes on the gathering are found mainly in chapter 3.

The questions raised in this summit affect society as a whole, perhaps foremost: how can we create organizations that truly represent us in all our diversity? What kind of creativity do we need to create this kind of “we”?

This question is even more pressing when considering global political situations with multiple wars happening in parallel. In the creation of a “We”, we seem to stumble over our categorizations of people. If the age-old question “Which side are you on?” has been the leitmotiv of the past several weeks, the only possible answer for us is, that there is no side to be taken other than that of the oppressed. It is necessary to stand for the protection of Jewish lives and grief for the lives taken, as well as to denounce the forcible displacement, collective punishment, disproportionate violence, and use of genocidal language against the Palestinian population, both peoples’ vulnerability is the byproduct of an imperialist, racialized capitalist system and its intersections. As a street newspaper, we try to stand solidly on shaky ground, working against Islamophobia and Antisemitism. We are now forced to negotiate our relationship with both current and coming history. 

Maybe the Palmer amaranth plant can give us hope, as proposed by Eliza Fuenzalida, or we expand our intimate relationships, as seen in the work of Marta Stanisława Sala and her partner, Aman Cheong, who brought voices from Taipei, Hong Kong, Macau, and Singapore in order to find comrades. Perhaps we can find allies just around the corner, such as the new association of homeless people, the “Union für Obdachlose” in Berlin? “Sorry, Insufficient funds! Goodbye” - the slogan on our cover - might hint at a collective experience of not earning enough money to survive, but also to the self-activation of collective consciousness to turn away from an economy that strips us of our basic, common need of being together.

 


Impressum / Imprint

Founders / Publishers / Directors
Verantwortlicher i.S.d Åò 18 Abs. 2 MStV María Inés Plaza Lazo, Pauł Sochacki

Managing / Artistic / Editorial Director
Amelie Jakubek

Editor in Chief
Dalia Maini

In Kollaboration mit
Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, Staatliche Kunsthalle BADEN BADEN, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart 

Editors
Elisa Fuenzalida, Theresa Zwerschke

Administrative Assistance
Selma Louise Christoph

Office and Distribution Assistance
Miguel Angel Espinoza

Proofreading
Lena Heubusch

Graphic Design
Till Sperrle

Online Design
Giorgia Belotti

Bildrechte
Alina Grehl

Druck
BV Berliner Zeitungsdruck GmbH

Alle Vertriebs- und Kund*innenanfragen an die Verlagsadresse
Reflektor Monde gUG (haftungsbeschränkt) Lynarstrasse 38, 13353 Berlin hey@artsoftheworkingclass.org

Editorial gefördert von
Stuttgart

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