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Vera List Event: Living Labor

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Living Labor is the telling title of a collection of essays, edited by Oslo-based curator Milena Hoegsberg. Considering the increasing subordination of life to work that coincides with the rise of a migratory, flexible, and underpaid labor force, the book offers critical responses and proposes viable and often artistic forms of refusal.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 6:30–8:30 p.m.
The New School
Theresa Lang Community & Student Center
55 West 13th Street, Second Floor
New York City
Free admission

For this conversation on alternative labor strategies, Milena Hoegsberg is joined by artist Caroline Woolard and political economist Terra Lawson-Remer. Together, they discuss and evaluate various models of economic collective ownership. To what extent are cooperative models always under threat and tenuous? Are they scalable? If so, when and when not? Can models of resistance become widely applicable? When, why, and how could they have larger social effects, and what limitations or promises do they hold? Hoegsberg provides an introduction to a series of artistic projects engaging issues surrounding labor, commissioned for the exhibition Arbeidstid (“work-time”). A core question is: what is the potential of performativity in trying to imagine a future where work and the economic regime that underpin it might be resisted and reconfigured? Woolard follows with a presentation of her recent projects on compensation and cooperation that function as case studies for the discussion. Lawson-Remer acts as commentator, illuminating how cultural works sit within legal norms.

The program is presented as part of the Vera List Center’s current curatorial focus on alignment and how questions of purpose and usefulness can be linked to performance and work. It follows on the heels of two related conferences: Performing Economies, at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, and Living Labor: Marxism and Performance Studies, at New York University. Please refer to the VLC’s resource guide for further readings and a glossary by the speakers on Collective Ownership, Collaboration, the Commons, Cooperation, and Refusal.

Milena Hoegsberg is a curator and writer and has since August 2011 served as Chief Curator at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (HOK), Oslo, Norway, focused on cross-disciplinary contemporary art. She co-edited Living Labor (with Cora Fisher) and Omer Fast: 5000 feet is the best (with Melanie O’Brian, both Sternberg Press). Hoegsberg is the editor of Shaped by Time (Revolver Press), the culmination of a two-year research and exhibition project with contemporary artists in the prehistoric collection at The National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, 2012. She has a BA in art history from Columbia University and an MA from The Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College.

Terra Lawson-Remer is Assistant Professor of International Affairs and Economics at The New School, and Fellow for Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy at the Council on Foreign Relations. She earned her PhD in Political Economy from New York University and her JD from New York University School of Law. Lawson-Remer’s research examines opportunity and exclusion in the global economy, with a focus on the global south. She uses mixed qualitative and quantitative empirical approaches, and emphasizes the de facto institutions that result from the interaction between multiple normative orders—formal laws and informal social norms, and global and domestic institutions. In this vein her work addresses economic development and poverty, natural resource governance, inequality and social exclusion, international economic law, property rights, emerging economies, and democratic transitions. She has written numerous academic research articles on these issues, and worked and conducted field studies in Latin America, North and East Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific. Lawson-Remer is co-author of the forthcoming book Fulfilling Social & Economics Rights (with Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and Susan Randolph, Oxford University Press), co-creator of the Social & Economic Rights Fulfillment (SERF) Index, and co-author of Pathways to Freedom: Political and Economic Lessons from Democratic Transitions (with Isobel Coleman, Council on Foreign Relations Press). She is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.

Caroline Woolard is an artist and organizer based in Brooklyn, NY. Making sculptures, furniture, and events, Woolard co-creates spaces for critical exchange, forgotten histories, and plausible futures. In 2009, Woolard cofounded three organizations to support collaborative cultural production: a studio space, a barter network, and Trade School. These experimental systems of mutual aid inform and enable her short-term projects, including: Exchange Cafe for Artists Experiment at the Museum of Modern Art (2013), The Economy of We at The University of Massachusetts Amherst (2012), and a Barricade to Bed toolkit for a cyberfeminist event at Eyebeam Art and Technology Center (2013). From 2008-2013, Woolard was supported by unemployment benefits, transformative organizers she met as the media coordinator for SolidarityNYC.org, an Eyebeam Fellowship, residencies at MacDowell Colony, Watermill, iLAND, and funding from the Rockefeller Cultural Innovation Fund. Woolard is currently an Artist in Residence at the Queens Museum, a lecturer at Cooper Union and The New School, and a member of Trade School and the Pedagogy Group.

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