Josephine Kaeppelin's presentation at Artist Placement
00:00 Introduction by Florence Cheval
Josephine: I call myself an "Intellectual and graphic service provider", rather than an artist. Working for & with others. I asked myself for who I am working. I started to discribe the action or activity as audits and call myself a service provider, I named things differently and satrted to play a role and mimic other ways of working. At first rather naievely. Step by step process, gradually evolving.
Why do we work? What do we do? In which context? And for what?
I realized that i needed to speak with other kinds of workers in order to start answering these questions.
List of questions I am asking myself: as an artist, I am questioning my own work. List of mottos:
For who do I work? What is my position in society? To who am I speaking? Who are my interlocuters? Why produce another work?
Audit Siegwerk started as an invitation for a residency in this ink production company by La Villa du Parc, art centre. Proposed to do an audit as her residency, with her cv as a service provider (not as an artist) Funding came from French ministry of culture ("Art et Monde du travail") + funds raised by Siegwerk.
3 steps: Inquiry: individual introspection. Vote: group work. Report: sharing moment made public.
00:13 1. Inquiry Inquiry in 3 sessions, a conversation process and finding ways to address everybody involved the company, without distinction. Started with a questionnaire (A3 folded in two entitled "Bonjour"). JK personally handed the paper to everyone, exploring and getting lost in the building. Questionnaire took about 15 minutes to complete.
I was not always presenting myself as a service provider, but sometimes referred to myself as an artist. I was interested in which state of mind, with which feelings the people are working
Introducing to staff in lab coat and hat, in person in front of 270 people working in the company. How to distinguish myself from visitor's/clients/...? Wearing a lab coat with text printed on the back: 'J'agis comme une table de ping-pong'. Word going around in the company that someone was around who isn't a regular collague or client. It worked quite well, rumors spread quickly.
After distributing the questionnaire I wanted to maintain contact and wrote them letters to share my thoughts and announce my next visit. I did not have the intention frame it as a game, but the dry format (folded A3, blue paper, arial font) blended in to much with their other administration and proved itself to be to heavy. Developed a game a coloured wheel with question cards divided into three colour categories: Pink questions: arts Yellow questions: society Blue questions: work Knocked on different office doors to ask whether they wanted to play the game with her. Convince the people that losing half an hour wasn't so bet.
Director of the factory gave complete freedom. They did not check the questions, the method or answers that were given.
Main goal: to address everybody and try to have conversations - no outcome
I myself was always one of the three parties in the game, I played along to allow them to get to know me too and build a relationship. The idea of playing was quite succesfull and was continued with a writing game.
Wooden dominoes with terms inscribed on it, half of them taken from the company (for instance job descriptions from the HR department), other half from other context (for instance, karate). Read intern communications (in toilets, by coffee machine, from unions, etc)
The idea was not to discribe their own work in the 3 picked terms, it became akin to reading cards, people started to interpret freely, identify and associate the sentences to their personal life or working situation. As if I was a fortune teller.
- The vote People could vote for the form of the report they would like to have at their workplaces, multiple choice: carpets with audit games, mural report, billboards, none, or all.
(5 in total): a series of text-based carpets looking like a hopscotch game, a mural report, a series of billboards, none, or all.
Votes were posssible online or on paper on the site. Simulations of each option were made."
They were not obliged to vote, but there was a unexpectedly high response of about 50%. How to spread the pages across the building and incorporate them?
00:34 3. The report 7 pages + the label of the audit report were applied on the walls of the buildings. Guided tours of approx 45 min were given by the 'service provider' during 2 days of inauguration.
There were equally visits for outside public (Ministry, etc)
Goal of audit & inquiry is to intervene in the work of the employees in order to give them space to think.
Shows slides of different visual implementations throughout the building
Proposed to the company to buy the piece as it was a big project, not very well paid and the work was there. Was also an occasion to go into maintenance and future of the work.
Murals were acquired the company for their collection. Agreement for it to stay for 5 years.
Right now, JK is making an audit at Beursschouwburg, following the same 3-step structure.
Mentions a text about participation in companies, found in the Archives nationales du monde du travail ('National Archives of the World of Work') in Roubaix (France): voting is one of the best ways to encourage participation.
A writing game developed at the Beursschouwburg is presented on a table at Argos, the audience today is invited to play the game (10-15 min).
46:30 Q&A: Florence Cheval: Your language games seem very spontaneous but making up rules of language can be considered equivalent to making rules of policy, etc Instituting as languege-making and vice versa. Joséphine: Indeed, the main material I use from the organisations in which I work is their language. There is a system, all these terms and words we use and this weird corporate language. Within society, naming and norming go hand in hand. How can we play with this? It is interesting to go into this system, but also keep it blurry.
00:51 On Caveat contract of Audit Beursschouwburg, it is available and public can look into it if interested.
Antony Hudek: Decision to become a "service provider" out of economic precarity? How does your work time relate to fees? The work, as in the murals, will remain for 5 years, but how about the other results of your audit? It would be interesting to look at the indirect results of your audit after 2 years for example, if someone got fired, etc. JK: Embodying the role of service provider didn't change my way of working, but made people see me differently. Also, it changes the expectation to be remunerated for ±research.
How much do you care about the social impact of your work?
Quite intense interaction. I will go back to the factory soon. People were touched that they were central in the work of an artist.
It is a passive remain, a memory, but I hope it can also engender an active way of thinking about corporate policy and working ethos.
59:30 Ronny Heiremans: You'll have an exhibition in an art centre. WHat will you be showing, if your work is so context-specific? JK: It makes no sense to show the report again there, or so. So I think I'll show my work tools, and welcome the people to play with them. Also the lab coat. It's an interesting question for me what interaction can mean with an audience that I don't physically meet.
Have you been asked to do an audit of an art space? JK: Beursschouwburg is a cultural institution. First audit I did was in a contemporary art centre, Magasin, in Grenoble -invited by its director.
Gareth Bell-Jones: How is that different from a factory setting? JK: It's more difficult. I guess we are into asking more fundamental questions. More conventioanl games would perhaps be more in contrast with the regular activities of working in an art context.
The art field is already dealing a lot with introspection, people all asking theirselves all these questions all days long, so for someone else to come in and ask them some more seems rather inappropriate.