Humour Works at HACK.Fem.EAST Berlin
Tuesday May 20th 2008, 12:54 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Exhibition, performances, a reader

by Humour Works

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City of Women fees are low. No one is regularly employed; we all work on a basis of a temporary project contract. There are four of us throughout the year doing the job for seven.


More friends join us at the time of the festival, every year in October. We always try to work with as many women as possible and we collaborate with[in] different networks. Our projects are something we really like to work on, something we develop from the beginning to the end; however, at the end of the day we always have to face our (global) precarious situation. We have therefore conceptualized the Humour Works exhibition as a diagnosing tool and a kind of directional sign for overcoming precarity as one of the most obvious aspects of the lived reality in the East (New) Europe, yet totally under discussed.

It is not only women who find themselves in precarious positions; cultural workers and migrants share similar experiences. The feeling of insecurity, living from today till tomorrow, doing several jobs at one time, working for self-realization but not for money or working only for money with little individual creative input are only some of the facts of the precarious reality, which offers plenty of frustration and anxiety potential on one hand, but almost no strategies how to resist it on the other. One of the possible strategies of overcoming precariousness is direct action empowered by networking, the other two are hacking and humour. Being deprivileged on the basis of gender, place of living and profession is a condition which is – observed from the historical perspective – in many ways a novelty in Eastern Europe. However, employing such a historical perspective instantly generates mythologizing of the pre-capitalist state order.

The general and public discourse in Eastern Europe was prior to the historical and economical cesura full of solidarity, equality and equal access, however the system in many instances failed to translate these discourses to reality. While today – by being part of instant (turbo) capitalism – we are not only deprived of the privileges of the social state, but we banned solidarity and social justice wholly as words and as the state’s raison d’ être. Like everywhere else in the overdeveloped western societies, also in Eastern Europe the external enemies have been swapped by internal ones ­– migrants, working women, and intellectual workers, who claim their right to have a share of the added value of their labour.

The responsibility for the raise of the precarious reality – so the hegemonic discourse – must though carry migrant workers and women, who are willing to work for less money, and when reproduction of labour and in this way birth rates are at stake, working women and homosexuals are seen as the only responsible ones. Networking and in this way community building are crucial elements when we are talking about work, conditions of work and precarization. Individual contracts, personalization of work conditions, the re-evaluation of traditional family model in which women could not take share of the added value of their (free) labour obviously work against community building, translation of knowledge and solidarity, but are even more adding to precarization and alienation.

The artists at the Humour Works exhibition are all part whether of visible or invisible networks and they share hacking and tactical manuals. What and how they deal with our complex precarious reality is sometimes easy, sometimes hard or even sad but it is always full of humour. Irony and acidness as strategies of feminist resistance aren’t new. Let’s use the translational capacity of feminist empowering capital and forget the times of playing submissive and passive women, or boring and even militant feminists and rather empower ourselves with humour, even irony and cynism, self-reflexion and self-critique for a network of engaged and laid back as well as open-minded and inclusive feminists.

After you clean your shoes at Jana Prepeluh (SI) prepare to enter the room No. 5 since artist Lejla Cmajcanin (BA) will share with you her experiences with EU immigration policy. If you will be lucky enough to get a visa you could amuse yourself with different Kits by Anetta Mona Chisa and Lucia Tkacova (SK), who will show you manuals using simple tools for getting a good gallerist, for romantization of economy or slowing down dialectic materialism, and even for a spectacular hairstyle. With Tina Smrekar’s (SI) Anti-Stress Techniques you could facilitate your everyday (coming up with creative projects and at the same time paying bills, facing constant deadline stress and adrenal fatigue, etc.) If you don’t want to use electricity at all out of environmental reasons or to be self-sustained and independent Polonca Lovšin (SI) can show you the easy way how to talk endlessly on the mobile phone or listen to your favourite music.

If you want to move to another country but don’t have the right papers simply marry like Kitch™ (SI) did. To marry for love is one of those big lies since marriage is one of the simple impetus for state control, so even if you are in love marry out of hacktivist reason. Or maybe you date only online? You are not alone, Starke (BA) are open for cooperation with all willing souls, but first of all they have a poem for you and a beat for all night ritual. son:DA (SI) can literally draw you communication methods and connections implying absurdity and alienation of technologized modern society. Lala Rašcic (HR) requestions ‘what if reality’ of a physically invisible person. She is interested in question: If you are born invisible or your identity was erased how can you become an insider, how can you exist, or move, or even cross the border?

The installation of loosely organised network Kanak Attak (DE) continues migration makeshift (and make-do) constructions, one person’s urgency for inventions of origins and destinations, fluidity and transformability, failure and potentiality. Another loose but extremely connected in attitudes and views – is the FAQ network. It is a rhizomatic home with a wide open doors for all Balkan’s Feminists, Activists, Queers and others. We are loose, but we can simply never lose!

Humour Works is curated by: Dunja Kukovec. Curatorial advisors: Katja Kobolt, Taida Horozovic, Danijela Dugandžic, Nanna Heidereich. Production assistants: Jasmina Založnik and Urška Jež With a support of: European Cultural Foundation, City Council Ljubljana, and Ministry of Culture of the Republic Slovenia

See Humour Works at HACK.Fem.EAST


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