Assisting and the Arts of Services

Wintersemester 2023/24

Die Veranstaltung findet auf Englisch statt.

Whether it is the studio of an institutionally successful painter or the provincial municipal theater, there is a reliance on poorly paid assistants and/or usually unpaid interns in order to function smoothly. Many of us have accepted those positions because we hoped that they would be ‘repaid’ in the form of professional experience and short or long term employment. By doing this work, we usually don’t have time to ask what exactly we are maintaining when we assist. Historically a feminized and racialized position, poorly paid and precarious, this kind of training through assisting - to paraphrase the philosophers Fred Moten and Stefano Harney - becomes the discipline.

In recent years, a number of artists and theorists have started looking at the psycho-socially suppressed activity of assisting within the “discipline” of art. Structured around a public workshop with guests including Marina Vishmidt, Stefano Harney, Valentina Desideri, Mathilde Supe and many others, the seminar examines the work of assistance as an aesthetic experience by asking what kind of subjectivity is produced by the emotional, physical and cognitive work it requires from those who do it.