The Showroom

Domestic Work is Work

Tuesday 13 May 2014, 1–3pm

at Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden


Domestic Work is Work is a public workshop where presentations and discussion will ask how strategies of art production and distribution can inform and support social movements related to labour and visibility. The workshop will specifically address discourses around the social perception of domestic work, the recognition of the domestic sphere as a site of labour, and the aesthetics of this labour. The event intends - in addition to making space to critically reflect - to build new alliances that can propose strategies for continued working.

Contributors include Justice for Domestic Workers (J4DW), a self-organised group of migrant Domestic Workers in London for whom visual expression and aesthetic strategies are important for their campaign. J4DW have been collaborating with London arts space The Showroom for two years, the various engagements and discussions between J4DW, artists, curators and curatorial projects have sought to make domestic work visible and the employment of artistic and aesthetic strategies to this end. This collaboration and research has been extended through the CuratorLab programme at Konstfack to begin conversations with Kommunal and Swedish based domestic workers. In 2007 the Swedish Government introduced tax relief for those employing domestic services, the urgency to address this, to make visible domestic work and to politicise the domestic sphere as a site of labour, exchange and power relations is at the centre of this workshop.

The workshop will include a Bilderkritik exercise with Werker Magazine. Bilderkritik (image critique) is a collective learning methodology conceived within the 1920s workers photography movement. The images for the Bilderkritik come from Werker Magazine 3 - The Domestic Worker Photography Network and will work to identify patterns of commonality among the images and see how they speak to different people in the workshop.

This event marks the final week of The Grand Domestic Revolution Library at Tensta Konsthall and coincides with the 7th Global Forum on Migration and Development which will be held this year in Stockholm (which J4DW will be speaking at).

Komunal is The Swedish Municipal Workers' Union, Svenska Kommunalarbetareförbundet. It is the largest trade union in Sweden with 570 000 members as of 2005, it was created 1910.

Tensta Konsthall is a centre for contemporary art in the Stockholm suburb of Tensta, northwest of the city centre. The gallery works with artists from both Swedish and abroad, often in conjunction with local associations and organizations in the area. Since 2011 Tensta konsthall has been actively working towards participating in an international exchange concerning definitions of contemporary art. The gallery’s program is formed and directed by art and artists, with the aim of also mediating their activities in a way that can be meaningful and relevant in Tensta itself.