Werker (or Werker Magazine) is a publication about photography and labour initiated by the visual artist Marc Roig Blesa (Madrid, 1981) and the graphic designer Rogier Delfos (Amsterdam, 1981). Its starting point is the Worker Photography Movement, a group of associations of amateur photographers that appeared in Germany in the 1920s, following in the steps of the first socialist photography experiences in the USSR which extended into the rest of Europe, the United States, and Japan.
Far from having a rhetorical approach to the work of these photographers, Werker takes interest in their working methodologies, based on self-representation, self-publishing, image analysis, and collective learning processes. What forms does work take in post-Fordist societies? What representations of work are being produced today? Is it possible to activate collective practices of self-representation? To what end and for which audiences? Each issue of the publication is produced and distributed in a different context (a fine arts academy, a museum, a neighbourhood, the Internet…), thus exploring strategies of interaction with specific audiences.
Werker sweatshop is the title of Werker‘s first solo exhibition within the context of an art gallery. The word ‘sweatshop’ (or ‘sweat factory’) is a pejorative English term used to describe workshops or factories where workers are subjected to a harsh environment, often with inadequate ventilation, and occasionally subject to physical, mental, or sexual abuse, under working conditions that are dangerous for their health, and during extremely long working hours.
In the current situation of economic depression and social protest, Werker proposes two publications from which to question, on the one hand, the models we use to represent and communicate our living and working conditions, and on the other, the complex relationship between the photographic medium and movements of social struggle and revolution.
Werker 7 – The language of Revolution, Index
This issue of Werker questions the function carried out by photography in the construction of a global revolutionary language. If revolution is a language, wrote Azoulay, photography is the paper we write it on. Werker 7 borrowed its title from the conference The Language of Revolution- Tidings from the East, given by Ariella Azoulay at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona in 2011, and was initially presented in the form of a newspaper, combining images taken from the Internet with concepts from Azoulay’s text. On this occasion, its index page is materialised as an installation from which images are absent. A version of Azoulay’s text The Language of Revolution- Tidings from the East, annotated by Werker, accompanies the installation.
Werker 4 – An Economic Portrait of the Young Artist
This issue of Werker was inspired by the first mural newspapers published in Russia during the 20s, which were read in factories, schools, hospitals, or workers’ associations. It is made up of a series of posters on the gallery walls that make the lack of stability, present in the life and work of young artists, visible. Diaspora, Donation, and Free Labour are the titles of the three new posters made especially for Werker Sweatshop.