Übergordnete Werke und Veranstaltungen


gender [work] - On the Technology of Gender

D 2000

gender [work] - On the Technology of Gender
Florian Wüst

The differentiation between men and women seems to be undiminishedly valid in the programme of the globalised working world: whether we consider the chances of promotion to the management levels, the setting of income or sexual harassment in the place of work, women still draw the short straw as much as ever within the competitive framework of the limitless economy. As to how far the trend towards immaterial work has broken through to the social and historical constitution of the woman's role, remains highly questionable. Whereas in the middle of the transformation to a hi-tech information society, (male) manpower is disappearing as a commodity, at the bottom end of this society - whether it's the maquiladoras in the chip factories on the US border to Mexico or immigrants without official documents, who work in German households for hunger wages - the commodity character of the female body and identity is becoming imposed on us in an ever more apparent and lethal way.

The following selection of films and videos reflect the relations between the concrete working conditions of women, the constant reconstruction of gender-defined differences, the (post)-feminist criticism and artistic actions against the naturalization of representation patterns.

Lana Lin's "I Begin To Know You" formulates a visual canon of the traditional role of woman as a home economics producer and services provider. Beneath the apparent fixation of the female (work)place in the world there lurks, however, a conspirative resistance of those affected. The terrorist act is about to happen soon - at least in this programme.

In "Semiotics of the Kitchen" Martha Rosler, one of the most important protagonists of feminist video art in the 70s, reverses the familiar connotations of kitchen appliances into a grammar of aggression and fury. The kitchen becomes the battleground against the myths of domestic everyday life.

In "Wir kennen uns übrigens", Frances Scholz reconstructs the story of the professional utopia of a female entrepreneur, outlined in the political-emancipatory consciousness of the late 60s. The game of performance appropriation of cinematically historic references illustrates the search for one's own artistic identity: "In the face of the inhumane situation, the artist has no option but to heighten the degree of difficulty of his art." (Kluge)

The A-clip "Respeto y Justicia!" brings us back down to hard reality. In this film, women get to speak out, who slave away at the domestic centre of bourgeois orderliness - invisible and without rights. They are held to ransom with the threat of the failure to pay their wages and with the threat of being reported and charged with illegal residency in Germany. Produced as two-minute inserts for the advert reels in commercial cinemas, the A-clips intervene directly with the snappy visual world of western prosperity.

Ursula Biemann's video essay "Performing the Border" encounters the reality of exploitation, sexualisation and serial killing of women in the Mexican border town of Ciudad Juarez with a many-layered discourse about the exemplary meaning of the town. The metaphor of the border as an open wound refers to the branding of bodies, "which, in the endless beat of the new international division of labour are ripped open and closed, consumed, reproduced and defined as female." (Volkart)

Kluge, Alexander: Artisten unter der Zirkuskuppel: ratlos. Germany 1968

Volkart, Yvonne: Kriegszonen: Körper, Identitäten und Weiblichkeit in der High-Tech Industrie.

springerin Band 5 Heft 2 1999, p. 42

Florian Wüst