Living Labor

Conversation Tue 15 Apr 2014 6.30PM-8.00PM The New School, Theresa Lang Community & Student Center
55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor
New York City

Free admission
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Living Labor is the telling title of a collection of essays, edited by Oslo-based curator Milena Hoegsberg. Considering the increasing subordination of life to work that coincides with the rise of a migratory, flexible, and underpaid labor force, the book offers critical responses and proposes viable and often artistic forms of refusal.

For this conversation on alternative labor strategies, Milena Hoegsberg is joined by artist Caroline Woolard and political economist Terra Lawson-Remer. Together, they present and discuss ideas surrounding collaboration and collective ownership. Can artistic models of resistance become widely applicable? When, why, and how could they have larger social effects, and what limitations or promises do they hold? Hoegsberg provides an introduction to a series of artistic projects engaging issues surrounding labor, commissioned for the exhibition Arbeidstid ("work-time"). A core question is: what is the potential of performativity in trying to imagine a future where work and the economic regime that underpin it might be resisted and reconfigured? Woolard presents some of her recent projects on compensation and cooperation that function as case studies for the discussion. Lawson-Remer acts as commentator, responding to the two presentations from the perspective of the field of political economy. An open discussion follows.

The program is presented as part of the Vera List Center's current curatorial focus on Alignment and how questions of purpose and usefulness can be linked to performance and work. It follows on the heels of two related conferences: Performing Economies, at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, and Living Labor: Marxism and Performance Studies, at New York University. For further readings, please refer below for PDFs of a resource guide and a glossary by the speakers on Collective Ownership, Collaboration, the Commons, Cooperation, and Refusal.
    • Living Labor
      • K Living Labor Resource Guide Download - pdf (261 kB)
      • K Living Labor Glossary Terms Download - pdf (186 kB)
      • K If Not Workers, Who Will We Be? In "Living Labor" by Milena Hoegsberg Download - pdf (6.69 MB)
      • K (Un)doing (Un)compensation by Caroline Woolard Download - pdf (597 kB)
Milena Hoegsberg is a curator and writer and has since August 2011 served as Chief Curator at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (HOK), Oslo, Norway, focused on cross-disciplinary contemporary art. She co-edited Living Labor (with Cora Fisher) and Omer Fast: 5000 feet is the best (with Melanie O'Brian, both Sternberg Press). Hoegsberg is the editor of Shaped by Time (Revolver Press), the culmination of a two-year research and exhibition project with contemporary artists in the prehistoric collection at The National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, 2012. She has a BA in art history from Columbia University and an MA from The Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College.

Terra Lawson-Remer is Assistant Professor of International Affairs and Economics at The New School, and Fellow for Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy at the Council on Foreign Relations. She earned her PhD in Political Economy from New York University and her JD from New York University School of Law. Lawson-Remer's research examines opportunity and exclusion in the global economy, with a focus on the global south. She uses mixed qualitative and quantitative empirical approaches, and emphasizes the de facto institutions that result from the interaction between multiple normative orders—formal laws and informal social norms, and global and domestic institutions. In this vein her work addresses economic development and poverty, natural resource governance, inequality and social exclusion, international economic law, property rights, emerging economies, and democratic transitions.
She has written numerous academic research articles on these issues, and worked and conducted field studies in Latin America, North and East Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific. Lawson-Remer is co-author of the forthcoming book Fulfilling Social & Economics Rights (with Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and Susan Randolph, Oxford University Press), co-creator of the Social & Economic Rights Fulfillment (SERF) Index, and co-author of Pathways to Freedom: Political and Economic Lessons from Democratic Transitions (with Isobel Coleman, Council on Foreign Relations Press). She is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.

Caroline Woolard graduated from the only tuition-free art school in the country (Cooper Union, BFA 2006) with a strong commitment to the solidarity economy movement and conceptual art. In 2009, Woolard cofounded three systems for cultural production: a studio space,, and Trade These experimental systems of mutual aid inform and enable her short term projects, including: Exchange Cafe for Artists Experiment at the Museum of Modern Art (2013), The Economy of We at The University of Massachusetts Amherst (2012), and a Barricade to Bed toolkit for a cyberfeminist event at Eyebeam Art and Technology Center (2013). Woolard is a resident in the Queens Museum Studio Program, teaches at The New School, coordinates Trade School, and is currently working towards a community land trust for a new coalition of artists, internet activists, and community organizers. For up to date information, lectures, and events, please visit: