Pressemitteilung vom 18.10.2018


Humanity at Work
By Romana Schmalisch and Robert Schlicht
Nov 16 – Dec 14, 2018 and
Jan 9 – 13, 2019
Opening Nov 15, 2018, 7 pm
Free admission, Wednesdays to Mondays, closed Tuesdays
Film material in French with English subtitles
Exhibition hall 2
The exhibition will be closed over the end-of-year holidays from Dec 15, 2018 until Jan 8, 2019.

How do we learn to work? What skills do we have to acquire in order to measure up to the demands of the labor market? In other words, how does human capital come about? With their solo exhibition, Romana Schmalisch and Robert Schlicht take up fundamental questions about today’s world of work.

Starting November 16, Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) presents Humanity at Work, a portrait of a society that measures its wealth in terms of the work done.

It centers on a fictional “labor power plant” in which people are strategically shaped, guided, and transformed into potential workers. The exhibition offers insights into this production facility for human capital in various presentational forms. Film observations document courses teaching soft skills such as creativity strategies, self-presentation and self-management. Diagrams explain production processes and the evaluation of the work force. A fictional historical outline describes the success story of the institution from industrialization to today, its reaction to the labor movement and new trends in corporate governance. Finally, the short film Top/Down portrays a role-playing game with three managers: As they discuss new management strategies intended to increase productivity by more targeted access to people’s desires and subjectivity, the initially well-defined power relations begin to topple.

Romana Schmalisch studied fine arts at the Berlin University of the Arts. She was an artist-in-residence at many institutions including the Jan Van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, Studio Voltaire in London and Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers. Robert Schlicht studied philosophy at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Together, Schmalisch and Schlicht work at the interface of film and theory to grapple with how historical processes and societal structures can be reproduced in film. The themes of labor in capitalist societies are a focal point in their exhibitions, performance series and films. Their research has taken them inside places like employment agencies and training centers. Their works include the 2013-2014 screening and performance series The Choreography of Labour at Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, the play All the best from Labour Power Plant at La Commune – Centre Dramatique National in Aubervilliers in 2017 and the exhibition Titre de travail at FRAC Grand Large–Hauts-de-France in Dunkerque in 2018. In 2019, their full-length feature film Labour Power Plant will be released.

Press photos: or on request

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Top/Down (2017) was produced by FRAC Grand Large–Hauts-de-France in collaboration with Spectre Productions and support from Pictanovo.

Humanity at Work is part of Kanon-Fragen. Haus der Kulturen der Welt is funded by the Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media and the German Foreign Ministry.