This online publication presents the outcomes of the interdisciplinary project Chronicles of Work, undertaken by Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, within the years of 2011 to 2014.
The point of departure for the project was the presumption that in today’s western societies the notion of work has been too often reduced to its purely economic dimension: For companies making business, work is a crucial element of competitiveness. For trade unions salary is the main question. This purely economic view on work and labor ignores its social and individual dimensions, abstracts biographical elements, personal ambition, desires or memory.
A loss of social ties, on the one hand, and the emergence of new communication strategies within homogenous social groups on the other have been experienced since the beginning of late capitalism and the resultant end of the “ethic of endurance,” deemed the foundation of the employer-employee relationship. Nowadays, as sociologist Richard Sennett explains, it is very much a question of creating relationships between individuals who can no longer rely on the stable organization of the working world.
The workshop Chronicles of Work I. Work without Qualities, which took place November 24–26, 2011, functioned as a starting point for the discussion and involved jurors, fellows, and guests of the academy coming from the fields of the arts, juridical sciences, humanities, and economic sciences. In a series of roundtable discussions and presentations, various notions of work processes and conditions in the context of artistic practices, as well as in the fields of economics and law, were interwoven.
With Alan Bass, Maurizio Lazzarato, Michael Taussig, François Vatin, and Akseli Virtanen, the academy invited internationally renowned scholars from the disciplines of economics, psychoanalysis, sociology, and anthropology to discuss changes in modern and contemporary work organization and the consequences for society. The lectures were held in 2013 and 2014.
What’s Work Worth was the title and leading question for a large series of events which took place from May to June 2013. Here, fellows and guests of the academy focused on the significance of their own artistic practice within different formats like lectures, performances, interventions, readings, a short play, film screenings, listening exercises, musical performances, and an exhibition.
For the experimental exhibition Combined and Compiled / Pieces of Pieces which took place June 20–21, 2014, the academy’s Römerstraße project space became a walk-in archive. The collection was assembled by the fellows in a collaborative action and accompanied by screenings, readings, and a roundtable discussion. In addition to this exhibition, the famous Robin Hood Minor Asset Management Cooperative opened its first office in Germany on Römerstraße from June 7 to 13, 2014.
To conclude the interdisciplinary project Chronicles of Work, the workshop The Dissensual Awareness of Labor was held November 13–15, 2014, inviting experts, jurors, and fellows to reexamine the numerous propositions brought forth in the past years. Instead of settling for a common definition, the workshop’s overarching aim was to trace the Rancierian notion of “dissensual awareness” within the conception of labor by means of discussions, lectures, performances, film screenings, and readings.
The four-year project Chronicles of Work considered the above mentioned theses from various different disciplines, involving participants from the arts, humanities, exact sciences, juridical sciences and economics, discussing and examining the changes of the definitions of work in contemporary society together with fellows, jurors, and guests of the academy in the framework of symposia, round tables, lectures series, workshops, performances, film screenings, and an exhibition.