Labour Practices: Ethics of Service and Ideas of Labour in Performance

An event organised by the Live Art Development Agency
in conjunction with At Your Service

Pinter Studio, Arts Building, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Road, E1 4NS
19 June 2009, 18.30 – 20.00. Free

This event will look at the ways in which artists use ideas of service and labour as creative strategies, and consider the ethics of recruiting the labour of others in works of art.

Playing with the idea of labour and service the Live Art Development Agency have outsourced the researching and writing of a paper on these issues to the writer Mary Paterson, who will in turn outsource the presentation of the paper to the Agency’s Projects Manager and practicing artist Andrew Mitchelson. Artists and writers working in these areas including Nick Ridout, Ana Laura Lopez de la Torre, Emma Leach and Natasha Vicars of Position Unpaid will then respond to the paper and provoke further discussion.

At Your Service is a group exhibition curated by Cylena Simonds running from 17 April to 27 June 2009 at the David Roberts Art Foundation in London. At Your Service engages the concept and dynamics of the service and hospitality industries in today’s political and social climate and brings together a wide range of artworks from emerging international artists. At Your Service examines aspects of service industries such as building construction, cleaning and catering as a way of addressing concepts of belonging, patterns of migration and the less-than-distinct roles of host/guest and native/foreigner. The artworks investigate themes within service labour such as routine, invisibility and the mundane. Juxtaposed with these works are projects that explore the notion of contemporary art practice as a service to the public, asking us to examine the kinds of interactions, expectations and desires we take on.

The work in At Your Service ranges from sculptural objects to photography and video as well as featuring specially commissioned performances taking place both within the gallery and in public locations, film screenings and talks. For full details of all At Your Service activities visit www.davidrobertsartfoundation.com

Labour Practices is supported by Queen Mary, University of London.


Contributors:

Mary Paterson is a writer and producer based in London. She was a writer with Live Art UK's 'Writing from Live Art' initiative (2006 – 2008) and Writing Live Fellow for Performa International Biennial of Performance (2007), supported by Arts Council England. She is co-director of Open Dialogues. www.open-dialogues.blogspot.com


Ana Laura Lopez de la Torre is a conceptual and live artist whose work centers around participation, informal networks and the uses of public space as a platform for self-expression, diversity, and the co-existence of conflicting views. Using the ephemeral, the overlooked and the underrated as the starting point, her work creates visible and unexpected connections between things, people and places. The rhetoric of conversation, participation and celebration are often deployed as a strategy for engagement, in which the public is invited to become an active contributor and collaborator to the work. www.lopezdelatorre.org/


Position Unpaid is a collaboration between Emma Leach & Natasha Vicars. The project asks awkward questions about arts internships, and moves towards some constructive answers. Emma Leach is a part-time writer, curator and artist assistant, and a full-time artist. Natasha Vicars makes live and participatory work in which there is an exchange of individual experience. Both have worked as interns in more than one art institution.
 

Nicholas Ridout teaches in the Department of Drama at Queen Mary University of London. He is the author of Stage Fright, Animals and Other Theatrical Problems (2006), a book which considers theatrical labour and its related affects. Recent publications include an essay on Performance and the Service Economy, and a short book called Theatre & Ethics.

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