Precarity: A Participatory People's Tribunal - ICA, March 20, 2011

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I worked with Precarious Workers Brigarde to realise this session at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) in London, UK.

otherwise called: Precarity: A Participatory People's Tribunal - scroll down for a few reflections, including reference to the project's amorphous name

Precarity Tribunal proceedings HR 20 03 11.jpg

Tribunal 2.jpg Tribunal ICA.png

25_03_11: Reflections in advance of debrief

  • Confusion around the name - at some point it shifted from being a "people's tribunal" to being a "participatory people's tribunal" - But aren't all tribunals participatory?
  • This was the first iteration - process ongoing - "the tribunal" is an appropriate, flexible and fascinating format through which to explore precarity as a systemic problem. One reason for this: this format moves between the personal and particular (testimonies) to the generalizable (verdicts).
  • Formal Considerations: As an artwork/intervention, this tribunal raised evergreen concerns around participation. There's consensus it was a rich process of research, organizing and enactment for those directly involved: the PWB (the Precarious Workers Brigade). And those who attended on Sunday gave positive feedback. However, there were significant gaps between the constituencies' experience. How to bridge these? Or rather: How might they be more knowingly negotiated in the tribunal format? This connects to exteriorisation and/or externalisation - learning to share inclusively, by which I mean sharing knowledge in ways that are accessible and interesting to all those present. It's not enough to say, "There's no audience in this tribunal; we're all judge and jury and we're all being held to account". We need modalities for enacting this. It is interesting to note that some non PWB attendees wanted more "drama/performance"; others wanted less. Brecht's alienation effect springs to mind as a possible model for future iterations...
  • Narrative of Agency: I'm fascinated by the tribunal as a narrative of agency. As a spatio-temporal matrix (chronotope), it's a co-authored story about empowerment that (can) also be empowering. For example, I was chatting to someone yesterday about her experience and she said: "I hadn't anticipated the impact of having someone else read out my story of stress-related illness. It was empowering because from this distance, I was able to better appreciate its relevance more generally--to others similarly effected."
  • It's also about us as subjects recognizing the sociality of (the) law. This affirms an absolute relation between collective authority and justice. Power is a process. And as a context that supports the redistribution of power, the tribunal could offer such a model...

More reflections forthcoming...

Return to CoLab BWB PT 1.jpg
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