Human Resources and Irksome Tools; a Workshop on Use

STUK, Leuven
28 April 2017, 2-6pm

With Marie de Brugerolles; Tyler Coburn; Simon Ascencio /JESSICA; Ghislaine Leung; Michelangelo Miccolis & Dora Garcia.
Organised by Cally Spooner

“How are we serving them and what are we serving?”
Andrea Fraser

A Workshop on Use mapped out a contemporary condition of ‘surrogacy’, in performance art and society at large: that is the hosting of other people’s labour in one’s own body. This led to broader questions around employing, and depending upon, others.

Through performances, lectures and a pop song playlist, this gathering at STUK, Leuven considered cultures of sharing and service economies. Building on Marina Vishmidt’s thoughts from the previous gathering—that from the standpoint of human capital, the self is hived off into a portfolio of assets, and the subject brand controls its investments, like a shell company—we asked how humans may be servicing other humans, often to service themselves. We equally considered how bodies, social relations and willpower may become primary labour tools for self-management and survival.

Delving into questions of instrumentality, the interdependence of living bodies as well as of ‘technical objects’, props, muses and ergonomic design, a number of participants discussed their multiple agencies as producers, performers, hosts, or other. Discussions ranged from how we might be programmed to be eased, enabled and ‘serviced’ by others; how the human may become a ‘technical object’ or tool; and where agency, or indeed hyper-agency, both at the level of the tool and its user, might sit within such dynamics.