It's a Questions of Power, Isn't It?

Werker Collective with Gleb Maiboroda and studio bonbon

Werker collective presents their work on 3 different locations, please find below google maps coordinates:

Werker Collective I: 51.989797, 5.902492
Werker Collective II: 51.9898174, 5.9002912
Werker Collective III: 51.996119, 5.893520 

Textiles of Resistance: Growing, Weaving, Printing, Archiving

The Werker Archief / The Archive activates labour-related materials within the sonsbeek collection and delves into this edition’s exploration of archives of the invisibilised, taking note of the long-running art event’s own archive that scarcely exists beyond the bodies involved.

Founded by Werker in 2009, the Werker Archief, centred on labour, has a site in Amsterdam’s Nieuwmarkt with over 3.000 documents activated through workshops, performances, installations and publications to generate transnational workers’ solidarity, political imaginaries and counter-representations of daily life from the margins. Werker Collective’s Textiles of Resistance: Growing, Weaving, Printing, Archiving uses the eponymous processes to question the material basis of their own archive: paper, a substance that must be isolated to be preserved, and which is emblematic of the human/nature divide. In translating the archive onto fabric, they incur greater interaction between nature and non-human forms of life, experimenting with the labour and ecology of craft in artisanal production. To that end, artist Gleb Maiboroda brings his research into weaving through an exploration of functional workwear in relation to the body of the queer worker. Teuntje Kranenborg addresses the legacy of women in the history of textile manufacture in the Netherlands by looking at the archive of Studio BonBon (1979-1988, Enschede), a women run textile print workshop founded by Christine van der Heide and Alke de Kroes, which further provides an exploration in natural dye and printing techniques.

A gardening practice is developed alongside, at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, where Werker is currently residing. By working with plants, the project also traces the craft of colour: its social, political, symbolic and ecological implications. Werker looks to these natural materials at the root of craft to see how trade shapes the social use of fabrics that influence our relation to plants and in turn shape landscape and culture. The history of textile production in the Netherlands is a case in point—one of the most polluting, gendered, racialised and poorly remunerated industries, especially with ‘fast fashion’—through which the project thinks critically about how to work with and through fabric.

Conversations with different collectives and individuals around documents that differentiate between non-human bodies and ecosystems inform relations to care and work to reveal the tension between information and rhythm—relations to content ingrained in patterns—such as reading and wearing, touching and embodying. A selection from the archive generates a participatory platform with source materials for designing textiles that physically manifest the archive and address the project’s core question: How can Werker Collective’s design and artistic practice be rearticulated to enable and support an ecosystem of care in balance with nature and non-human forms of life?

The individuals and collectives that take part in these conversations are: Elisa Collene, Anaëlle Bonnevay, Francesca Miath, Lucie Marti-Bodeveix, Alice Poret, Clémence Carrier, Celia Regottaz, Laurianne Charière-Fiedler, Adélie Veaux, Victoire Lamy, Emma Tomek. Students from ÉSAD Valence with Florence Lazar. 

Susan Melo, Evie Evans, Zandile Tshabalala, Venuri Perera, Josefina Gilardi, Anouk Slewe, Luna Hupperetz, Jakob Hodel. Participants to Decolonial Futures exchange program. Framer Framed, Gerrit Rietveld Academie and Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam, Funda Community College in Soweto.

Art Worker Rights, Hannah Dawn Henderson, studio bonbon, We Sell Reality, Christine van der Heide, Teuntje Kranenborg, Pierre Gramond–Dodet, Razia Barsatie, Queer Reproduction, Gleb Maiboroda, Nell Schwann, Hyeonju Lee, Tomris Türker. Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam. 

Special thanks to: Celeste Perret, Stephan Kuderna, Pieter Verweij, Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten. 

Textiles by Enschede Textielstad.

Werker (2009, Amsterdam) focuses on labour and was initiated by Marc Roig Blesa (1981, Madrid) and Rogier Delfos (1981, Amsterdam) in its home of Amsterdam. It began with the release of ten issues of Werker Magazine, inspired by Der Vereinigung der Arbeiter-Fotografen (the association of worker photographers), whose politicised photo clubs in 1920s Germany followed the first socialist photography experiments in the USSR. Under the signature Werker Collective, for the last ten years Werker has been activating workshops based on self-representation, self-publishing, image analysis, collaborative education processes and counter-archiving to expand self-publishing into moving image, installation and performance. Their international allies, from researchers to schools to archives, explore feminism, queerness and collective authorship, inquire into worker’s solidarity and have included: Ariella Aïsha Azoulay; Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons, Utrecht; Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid; Ciudadan@s en Defensa de la Escuela Pública; Dutch Art Institute, Arnhem; Georgy Mamedov; International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam; Jo Spence Memorial Archive; Juan Carlos Mohr; Julia Morandeira Arrizabalaga; Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona; Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam; Sindillar: Sindicato de Trabajadoras del Hogar y los Cuidados, Barcelona; Susoespai: Creació i Salut Mental, Barcelona; Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; The Showroom, London; The Voice of Domestic Workers, London; and We Sell Reality, Amsterdam.

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