in the works
Part 1: L’Abominable, Paris
We conducted our first talk in L’Abominable. The L’Abominable is a collective film lab in Asnières-sur-Seine, France; an open workshop in which film can be developed, processed, edited, and copied. To this end, the lab collective overhauled machines left unused because the film industry has digitalised. The lab enables filmmakers to take the work with the material back into their own hands and thereby achieve a certain autonomy in the production process.
The talk turns to building an open structure, questions of self-organisation, and work that transcends commerciality. In parallel to the talk, the images show our learning process about developing our 16 mm material into a finished copy by hand.
Part 2: Coordination des Intermittents et Précaires
Nicolas Rey from L’Abominable conducted the following talk with members of the Coordination des Intermittents et Précaires, Île de France, Paris.
Since the 1960s, France has had special unemployment insurance for film and theatre workers. It ensures both technicians and artists who work intermittently a minimum income and continued payment of social insurance contributions. This insurance has traditionally enabled such workers to use “times between” to think and research or to realise independent projects that have no adequate funding. France’s expanding free film and theatre scene is in great part owed to this arrangement.
When the requirements to be recognised as an “Intermittent” were sharply tightened in 2003, the Coordination des Intermittents et Précaires formed as an association that not only acted against the curtailing of the privileges of creative people, but also took the situation of all the precariously employed as its theme. With spectacular measures like storming the eight o’clock news on French television, they were able to involve a broad public in the discussion about precarious employment and possible alternatives.
This part focuses on the experience of joint political action and how a spontaneous movement transformed into an open structure that is used for counselling, organising a free university, or research on the phenomenon of the increasingly precarious employment conditions.
Part 3: The Cooperatives Placido Rizzotto and Pio La Torre, Sicily
Laurence Hartenstein and Catherine Bot, both active in the Coordination des Intermittents et Précaires, drove with us to Sicily for the next meeting. They speak with members of two agricultural cooperatives about the significance of the cooperatives in building a legal economy and regular working conditions in contrast to the Mafia structures that still dominate Sicily’s economy and society.
In an interview conducted in parallel, we learn something of the long history of the struggle against the Mafia, in which the cooperatives played an important role as a counter-alliance against the large landowners, the state, and the Mafia. After the Second World War, for the first time in its history, Italy created the legal basis that enabled cooperatives to claim fallow land. A full-fledged movement developed: impoverished agricultural workers founded cooperatives and demanded the distribution of land. The Mafia fought these legal demands with the utmost brutality. The man for whom one of the cooperatives is named, Placido Rizzotto, was a union activist from Corleone who, with the farm workers, organised the occupation of fallow land. The Mafia murdered him in 1948.
Both cooperatives were founded on the basis of a law not passed until 1996. It enables social cooperatives to use assets and land confiscated from members of the Mafia. They can use the land allotted to them free of charge for thirty years, but they have to work in culturally difficult surroundings – the immediate neighbourhood of Mafia families. In addition, they must prevail economically under the conditions of the world market in agricultural products.
Part 4: I Sicaliani - Palermo
Part four of the series is about the ambivalent role of social cooperatives in Italy: While the state is assuming fewer and fewer social functions, outsourcing them to social cooperatives instead, at the same time it is cutting off their funding. Menaced by the Mafia and austerity policy alike, the social cooperative I Sicaliani in Palermo is fighting for a public Ludoteca where children can come to play for free.
Part 5: The Free School am Mauerpark - Berlin
Part 5 deals with the idea and the reality of Free Alternative Schools. Born in the emancipatory movement of the 70ies they now can be seen as a niche for the segregated alternative elites or as a modell for reforms overdue in the public schools. Parallel to the discussion we witness the weekly school assembly, where the children practice direct democracy and we see how self-determined learning that is not limited to the classical subjects is functioning.
Part 6: 9to5, Lux & Konsorten and the many – Hamburg
In part 6 of the interview chain the collective becomes permeable. Coming from political research and activism on the subject of precarity 9to5 change their focus and connect to other groups to achieve a common goal: A space for work and political organization owned collectively in the center of the city.
The film gives an insight into unconventional political practices of „city planning“ with demonstrations and occupations in the sense of Lefebvre's Right to the City.
The directors on the film
When we began our research for in the works, the public was just being prepared for a coming crisis. The subprime mortgage, bank, and debt crises came, and we have meanwhile grown used to thinking of crises not as exceptional states, but as a constant scenario of intimidation to push through economic imperatives.
With in the works, we sought alternatives and practical experience with cooperative action and the knowledge accumulated daily in the countless projects beyond the bounds of the profit ideology.
We wanted to start from our situation, a precarious life as self-employed people in a universe of under-funded projects and temporary jobs; we wanted to know how to successfully bring together the atomised self-employing: to take the means of production into our own hands to advocate our own rights and to build companies based on principles of solidarity.
It was important to us to enable direct exchange among the groups and thereby to shift perspective: those queried ask the questions in the talk that follows their own. Each time, a unique and unforeseeable dynamic thereby develops that subverts the conventional idea of authorship.
Meeting collectives in various European countries also meant comparing the situations in these countries. Who in Germany would think of occupying a live television broadcast, for example the eight o’clock news? Is it worth imitating the Italian example of confiscating illegally acquired fortunes in the billions and giving them to social projects?
Minze Tummescheit, Arne Hector