The Guild has been around for a while, focusing its efforts on construction work. Members of this association (so called journeywomen) are dedicated to numerous manual technologies, but also to literary and performative arts which allow them to emancipate the hidden knowledges dwelling in the craft domains. The Guild’s Headquarters accommodates several branches, organizing the association’s activities into specialized divisions: Education Department, Shipping Department, Writing Department, Public Relations Department et al. These days, the Headquarters opens its doors to the public, revealing the journeywomen’s inclusive and highly playful working process.
For “The Headquarters”, the space of PuntWG has been turned into a performative bureau of an imaginary guild of builders and makers. This speculative presentation alludes to The Building Institute (TBI), an actual project initiated by artist and woodworker Olga Micińska. TBI is an experimental and non-formal organization engaging with diverse questions surrounding the subjects of labour and technology, and aiming to strengthen the position of women in the field of technical construction work.
Taking it from a very grounded point of view, Olga invited a group of artists and makers to plot a fictional narrative around the idea of a feminist organization which reconsiders the business-as-usual of the working conditions in the building domain and related technologies. The show combines multiple strengths and competences of the contributors: woodwork, metalwork, weaving, sewing, writing, publishing, imagining , knowledge-sharing and performing.
Olga Micińska and Harriet Morley conduct the Education Department, offering mentorship and technical assistance to a group of apprentices who also develop their independent artistic practices. Mathild Clerc-Verhoeven, Cecile Hübner, Chloé Sapelkine, Gersande Schellinx and Bo Wielders realize their own ideas for strange tools under the supervision of Olga and Harriet, exercising technical skills in woodwork and metalwork. On a long term basis, the efforts of the Education Department strive to flood the job market with female builders.
Stéphanie Baechler stands at the core of the Shipping Department as she has mastered the art of crate making for her own fragile works. These days, the support structure of her artistic practice (crates and packing) has become the key subject matter of recent projects, revealing the attitude of care in technical work.
Kitty Maria and Elise Ehry introduce their ongoing performance as unemployed air hostesses into the Guild’s Headquarters. Placing the absurdity of their service work performance in the context of a builders’ association, they put themselves in charge of The Public Relations Department, amplifying the subdued voices of the physical labourers. Hence instead of following the rhythmic sound of the production machines, they make noise.
Samantha McCulloch and Gersande Schellinx, as committed writers and publishers, take care of The Writing Department’s past, present and future archives. This literary division of the Guild’s bureau documents the working process on its own terms, analyzes the meta value of an experimental building process, and finds words for it.
The project is kindly supported by Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst and Mondriaan Fonds.
Event: Air Tonalities
21 & 22 May 2022, 14:00 - 18:00, with Elisa Ehry and Kitty Maria
Air tonalities is a noise performance of unemployed air hostesses Heather and Rosetta. In it they combine handmade atonal instruments, with the sounds of electronics and the suppressed thoughts of the service worker. Air tonalities is composed in consultation with Argentinian noise-musician Leandro Barzabal.
This soundwork by Kitty Maria and Elise Ehry is a new exercise in their collaborative work deconstructing the service worker. In it they perform as unemployed air hostesses openly retiring from duty to instead perform subtle ways of discontent. Their withdrawal from employment signifies a resistance towards the historical interweaving of gender and labour, and specifically the mystification of the female sex for commercial purposes, in which she is stripped of her own desires to be of service to others.
Image Credit: Olga Micińska “Rebecca” (from “The Guild” work cycle) 2021
Photography by Ilya Rabinovich