Manual Labours | 8 -12 April 2013 | Birkbeck University, 43 Gordon Square, London

8-12 April, 10-6pm
 Peltz Room, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD
 For more info:
FREE Public Events (no need to book):
Wednesday 10 April, 7pm
The Trainee – Screening and Discussion | Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD
Marina Vishmidt will discuss Pilvi Takala’s performance and film ‘The Trainee’ (2008) in light of her research into how art models the anomalous labour conditions of financialized capitalism.

Friday 12 April, 1-2pm
The Working Lunch | Peltz room, Birkbeck University, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD
Public lunch hour and discussion led by Sophie Hope and Jenny Richards.  Food provided!

Manual Labours is a long term research project exploring people’s physical relationships to work, initiated by Jenny Richards and Sophie Hope. This project reconsiders current time-based structures of work (when does work start and end?) and reasserts the significance of the physical (manual) aspect of immaterial, affective and emotional labour.
Manual Labours starts with a 35 hour ‘working week’-long investigation into the embodied, sensory, emotional affects of workwhich will include meetings with our co-workers, a 9 mile walk to work, film screenings and a Public Lunch Hour.
Through this project we are interested in exploring the transformation of labour processes through an investigation into the ‘physical’ relationship to work in order to map complex and overlapping experiences of work/life entwinement. During this first public manifestation of Manual Labours we will be building an archive of films and publications, alongside public screenings and discussions with co-workers to inform ways in which we can recapture a sense of agency within our current positions.   Developing research in a public setting through performative actions, each day of our week-long presence at Birkbeck focuses on one worker stereotype in order to research how these different ‘posts’ are de-stabled through everyday practices.

Two public events hope to generate conversations and contributions which will shape the evolvement of Manual Labours and allow us to explore the shared, collective concerns and tactics for reclaiming a critical and sensory experience of work/life.  Join us on Wednesday 10th April 7pm when writer Marina Vishmidt will discuss Pilvi Takala’s film ‘The Trainee’ and on Friday we’ll be offering a communal lunch hour with home cooked food and a discussion reflecting on the week’s activities led by Sophie Hope and Jenny Richards.

Visit for full details of the daily programme.
Films accessible within the Manual Labours archive include: Moira Zoitl’s ‘Exchange Square’ (2007) exploring domestic workers in Hong Kong; Can Altay’s ‘We’re Papermen, He said’ (2003) which follows the operations of unofficial recyclers and rubbish men in Ankara; extracts of Marie Barrett’s ‘Remnant’ (2008), documenting oral histories of the closure of the garment factories in North-West Ireland; Jesse Jones’ ‘The Struggle Against Ourselves’ (2011) which explores Russian theater director Vsevolod Meyerhold’s studies in biomechanics and Kennedy Browne’s ‘How Capital Moves’ (2010), a film which uses anecdotes of redundancy and insecure working conditions to explore the precarious nature of working for a multinational company.
Manual Labours is supported by the Centre for Media, Culture and Creative Practice, Birkbeck (, Sophie Hope and Jenny Richards.
For updates on the weekly programme of talks, discussions and screenings visit
To find out more, get involved or contribute, please contact

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