The Showroom

Werker 3: Bilderkritik 2 with Justice for Domestic Workers

Sunday 24 February 2013, 2–4pm

Free, all welcome


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), which will be employed in this afternoon event with Justice for Domestic Workers.

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.

This event accompanies the project Werker 10 – Community Darkroom.

This event is part of Communal Knowledge, supported by The Paul Hamlyn Foundation, The John Lyons Charitable Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and City Bridge Trust.

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