Installation | General Idea

A Gestural History of the Young Worker

Werker Collective with Georgy Mamedov

photo: Verena Blok

Through its artistic research, Werker Collective investigates patriarchal ideologies that surround the use of archives as instruments of domination. Their work instigates a transformative journey and reshapes archives into dynamic platforms for intersectional and intergenerational self-determination. By initiating collaborative and direct exchanges, they merge historical labour narratives with present-day urgencies to challenge oppressive norms. Developing a queer reading of found images from various sources, the collective’s practice ties in with artist group General Idea’s approach to blended authorship and collective image memory.

Inspired by Soviet visual culture and the 1920s Worker Photography Movement that started in the Weimar Republic, A Gestural History of the Young Worker reimagines the representation of workers. Created in collaboration with activist and curator Georgy Mamedov, the work interweaves iconic imagery with the collective’s own archives to unravel the depiction of art, labour and sexuality. By centering queer (re-)production and strategies of counter-archiving, the project challenges conventional portrayals and lays bare the harsh realities faced by non-normative bodies. Bathed in subdued red light, the installation evokes the intimate atmospheres of both a photography darkroom and a cruising club.

During autumn 2023, Werker Collective and Georgy Mamedov conduct workshops with local communities and archive workers. A public closing presentation with Werker Collective and Georgy Mamedov will take place on 16 December. This project is part of the public programme of the exhibition General Idea, curated by Zippora Elders with the Curatorial Department and Outreach.

Content Note
The installation shows archival material that includes nudity and violence.