April 12, 2019 - Collective - Petra Bauer & SCOT-PEP: Workers!
April 12, 2019


Petra Bauer & SCOT-PEP, Workers!, (still), 2018. Film.

Petra Bauer & SCOT-PEP
April 13–June 30, 2019

City Observatory
EH7 5AA Edinburgh


Workers! is a new film initiated by Collective in 2016, between Swedish artist and filmmaker Petra Bauer and SCOT-PEP, a sex-worker led organisation in Scotland. First screened in Edinburgh in 2018 as part of the opening week of Collective’s new home on Calton Hill, the film returns to Collective for an exhibition that includes a workers banner, audio works and reading materials exploring the sex-worker rights movement.

Workers! deploys film as a tool for exploring debates on women’s work beyond the polarising divisions prevalent in feminism, past and present. It was filmed in the Scottish Trade Union Congress, Glasgow, a building rooted in workers’ struggles for rights and political representation. During SCOT-PEP’s one-day occupation of this institution, conversations unfold that centre voices of sex workers demanding to be seen as experts on their own labour and lives.

The collective approach developed for the production of Workers! is inspired by feminist film practitioners who emphasise the importance of making films with their subjects, not about them. Two historic films are used a starting point for the new film work: Les Prostituées de Lyon Parlent (1975) that documents the occupation of a church by two hundred sex workers denouncing police harassment and dangerous working conditions; and Chantal Akerman’s iconic Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Brussels (1975), which depicts the daily routine of Jeanne as a mother, housewife and sex worker.

The exhibition includes a banner made by SCOT-PEP and artist Fiona Jardine, inspired by the traditional iconography and craft of Trade Union banners and tapestries. It will be shown with the film in Collective’s City Dome alongside a collection of written and audio materials presented in Collective’s Library. This archive of resources is intended to open out the process of making Workers!, the complex discourses around sex-work politics and contemporary experiences of work.

Petra Bauer works as an artist and filmmaker. She is concerned with the question of film as a political practice, and sees it as a space where social and political negotiations can take place. Recent exhibitions include: Soon Enough: art in action, Tensta Konsthall (2018); Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More, Riga Biennial (2018): Show Me Your Archive and I Will Tell You Who is in Power, KIOSK, Ghent (2017); Women in Struggles, on tour to different Folkets Hus (People’s Houses) in Sweden (2016–17); A Story within a Story, Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (2015); and All the World’s Futures, 56th Venice Biennale (2015). Petra is an initiator of the feminist platform k.ö.k (Kvinnor könskar kollektivitet – Women Desire Collectivity).

SCOT-PEP is sex worker-led charity that advocates for the safety, rights and health of everyone who sells sex in Scotland. They believe that sex work is work, and that sex workers deserve protections such as labour rights. Along with Amnesty International, the World Health Organisation and the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, they believe that the decriminalisation of sex work best upholds the safety and rights of people who sell sex.​​

Workers! is produced by Collective and HER Film, with support from research partner the University of Edinburgh.

Workers! is supported by Creative Scotland, Edith Russ-Haus, Stiftung Neidersachsen, Filmbasen, Outset Scotland Student Circle, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, The Royal Institute of Art, Sweden, The Swedish Arts Grants Committee/IASPIS.

Workers! is showing concurrently at the Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art, in Oldenburg, Germany, as part of Red Umbrella Struggles, April 17–June 23, 2019. 

Share - Petra Bauer & SCOT-PEP
  • Share