–  www.werkermagazine.org

Domestic labour is usually unpaid and not recognised as valuable work by society. We do it unconsciously, without feeling that we are really working. If waged, it is often paid under the table, frequently without a contract and done by people that can’t have a ‘legal’ job because of bureaucratic and restrictive immigration policies. In the last ten years, with the rise of new communication technologies, the amount of people working from home has increased significantly. Freelancers and Artists also work regularly at home.

To analyse this complexity ‘Werker Magazine’ is building an international community of contributors, the so-called Domestic Worker Photographers Network. After one year and more than 320 contributions, the time has come to reflect where we are, analyse the outcome of our collective research and try to bring the project further.

This reflective process is made with a method called ‘Bilderkritik’ (image critique). Bilderkritik was a collective learning methodology conceived to enhance the critical and practical photography skills of the working class. It analysed technically, formally and ideologically images sent by amateurs to the editors of ‘Der Arbeiter-fotograf’, the German Worker Photographer’s monthly journal.

The Worker Photographer movement (1926 – 1939) assembled the first associations of amateur photographers to use the camera politically, as a tool of self-representation, against the capitalist domination of images in the illustrated press of the time. It started after the revolution in Russia by industrial workers who had access to cameras at the factories and spread through Europe and U.S.A. to unemployed workers, socialists and photography lovers alike. In every country the profile of the worker photographers changed.

The analysis focuses on identifying a pattern or commonality among the images and how they speak to the different people in the working group. We discuss the adequacy of the tags that were originally given to every image and create new ones, pointing directly the material core of every picture. A wall scheme helps us to visualise the new categories and in-between relations. Bilderkritik ends with the collective task of writing brief introductory texts to every new category. These texts should help to articulate and spread the political relevance of the pictures in order to get more Domestic Worker Photographers to join the Network.

About Werker Magazine:

Werker Magazine is a contextual publication about photography and labour that inquires into the possibility of formulating a contemporary representation of work. Werker takes its name from the Worker Photographers (1926-39). We are fascinated by their political use of photography based on self-documentation, self-publishing and image critique. What is labour nowadays, in post-fordist society? How is it portrayed? Is it possible to activate collective practices of self-representation? For what purpose? Every edition of Werker is produced and distributed in a different context such as a museum, an academy, a neighborhood etc. exploring various strategies of interaction with specific audiences.

Werker Magazine is a collaboration between Marc Roig Blesa (Visual artist) and Rogier Delfos (Graphic designer), both based in Amsterdam.