Below see more details, as published on the website of Sarmad, and a link to the submission form.
The selected works will be published in a series of publications as part of a show that WORKNOT! is curating at MAMA, Rotterdam, Netherlands in Spring of 2020.
Comfort & Exhaustion
Too often we discuss and glamorize production but overlook the exhaustion, fatigue and anxiety accompanying or following it. We, as society, have been conditioned to celebrate success, extroversion, and speed; and to fail to recognize exhaustion, silence, and slowness as parts of the same reality.
Within the capitalist logic of today, no matter how immaterial our work is, bodies are resources of production that have to rest at the end of the day, only to recover and go back to work the next day.
In today’s forms of labor, saturated with cognitive and immaterial forms of work, there is little division between work and non-work conducts. It is very basic; when I am working, am I not living? Is living something that I keep intact during my work time, and take with me to perform in my personal space/time? We would like to argue that, especially in today’s growing forms of precarious life, the binary of work-life is an absolute delusion at best, and a cunning exploitation strategy at worst; one that exhausts bodies.
Exhaustion is not only a consequence of “work”, but also of a variety of other forces. Things like mental struggles, loneliness, being othered, being excluded, (over-)performing normalcy. But also, let’s think about embodying generational forms of exhaustion. Or exhaustion from political oppression. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh travels walking in search of immortality, during which he loses his youth, his friend, and his home. After the seventh day of his travels, he passes away because of tiredness and exhaustion. This, for us, presents a paradigm to rethink comfort. Understanding comfort as an antithesis to exhaustion, we argue that notions such as leisure, sleeping-in, or binge-watching do not exhaust all possibilities of comfort. Comfort and exhaustion are states and performances yet to be explored.
We believe that to imagine an alternative way of existing in the world, we have to start with reclamation of life, not excluding from it work. We have to start from reclamation of comfort.
Home. Home. Home.
“Home” has always been the locus of all our struggles and joys. It has been a space of resting, cooking, eating, pleasure, kinship, care, a trashcan for our anger and tiredness, a safe space to be heard; a privilege. As well, it has been a space of tension, loneliness, violence, exhaustion, and placement of our tired bodies.
For instance, for those of us who have always worked at home, the so-called nomadic worker, e.g. artists of all kinds, the self-employed, the freelancer and the creative maker, many of us that could never afford a “working” space in addition to our “living” space: we did everything at home.
Home has healed us and has driven us mad. On our beds we have spent days fatigued, have cried in the shower, and formed special kinship at the dinner table.
Besides, in light of the current crisis, the issue has gone way beyond the nomadic and precarious worker. We all “stay home” to stay alive.
In a time of social distancing and total isolation, home has become everything, even more than before, the entirety of each person’s world. Home, now, is not just the space to rest to be able to go to work the next day anymore. Home is all there is. Beyond home there is nothing; only occasional visits to the supermarket, done with utmost care, and as least frequently as possible.
After weeks (and months) of staying home, home is not only the site of comfort and healing, but also of exhaustion, unbearable boredom, mental collapses, restlessness, strange shadows, and anxiety.
At the same time, home, where you can stay for as long as you want, is a fundamental privilege. And the issue is not only homelessness but more generally, about precarious contemporary lives; the individuals on temporary contracts, the unprotected self-employed, those with short-term rental arrangements, those in abusive homes, etc.
What we are looking for:
Most simply and generally put, creative works addressing this theme, directly or indirectly.
You can be an artist, writer, cultural practitioner, or creative maker (amateur or professional).
There is no limitation on medium. Writings (fiction and non), video, sound, performance, images (photos, drawings, illustrations, collages, etc.), any combination of the above or any other form not mentioned, all welcome.
Sarmad keeps publishing selected submissions online on a rolling basis as they come in.
Additionally, on May the 15th, we will make another selection of the works featured online, to be published in the book which Sarmad will make for the exhibition “Fictioning Comfort”, at MAMA, Rotterdam (NL), June–July 2020.
So if you’d like your work to be considered for the book, May the 15th is your deadline. Even though, the online part of the project will continue after the show too.
About this open call:
Fictioning Comfort is a show curated by WORKNOT! taking place at MAMA during June–July 2020. It addresses the practices of exhausting bodies (from human bodies to planetary ones), and investigates the notion of comfort, as an antithesis to practices of exhaustion. Sarmad has been invited to collaborate by curating and publishing a series of books for the show, to open up to a broader discussion on the notions of comfort and exhaustion.
In order to submit your work, use the following brief google form:
* note: if you do not want to use google, please just send us the same information via email: firstname.lastname@example.org