Thessaloniki, December 2016

Upcoming Conference: Work As Invention. Art for Social Change

The Artecitya Conference by Goethe-Institut Thessaloniki aims at creating a productive exchange between the fields of art, labour, politics and research-based knowledge, aiming at a trans-disciplinary approach. It shows the mutual dependence of work and art in envisioning the future of an upcoming society.

Text: Dr. Sotirios Bahtsetzis
Our understanding of the concept of work is closely linked to industrial wage labor and employment. With paid work, we combine the meaning of life and the social legitimacy of individuals and collectives. This mental understanding becomes increasingly precarious, while corresponding with changes in the Welfare State and the globalised society. In the post-industrial society technological developments (internet and digital networking as well as mobility of labour) enabled various alternative forms of human labor to emerge, thus challenging conventional modes of work. New media researchers, digital craftsmen, socially engaged activists, permaculture makers, post-industrial designers, as well as innovative policy makers act towards inventing new forms of work as interaction with the social and natural environment. In the meanwhile, many artists today are deeply committed to making work that addresses pressing social issues and changes in the way we perceive the world: social cohesion, post-democracy, environmental crisis and scarcity of resources, intersection of leisure and work etc.. The potential of art for social change can be deployed in order to rethink the concept of work and offer alternatives to a precarious living, characterised by permanent unemployment, indebtedness and deprivation of civil rights, as well as the damaging lack of creative and resilient solutions for society.

Artists explore new forms of social practice that become involved in addressing communities and conventional institutions. These experiments engage both with the notion of creativity (e.g. low and high culture), as well as with a redefinition of work (e.g. DIY, Makershops, Fablabs, alternative economies). Moving beyond the function of commenting and responding to society by means of creating visual, auditory or performing artefacts, socially engaged art can ignite demands for change, and provide a platform for reflection, collaboration and laboratories for building socially resilient practices of work. 

Our aim is to provide equal space to both scholarly and artistic contributions, as well as presentations of best practice models in society, in order to explore these highly relevant social, economic and aesthetic developments. Focusing on three specific areas -that is art, community and politics- various scientists, scholars, educators, artists, civil society activists, as well as stake holders in politics and economy are invited to deeply explore this state of things and offer proposals for building alternative models of work and art. Possible perspectives for contributions could be: new technologies, urban creativity, transformation design, art activism, civic participation, commons, alternative economies, social cohesion, best practice in social entrepreneurship, resilient and post-growth society, global governance and post-humanism. The list of contributors includes scholars, policy makers on local and European scale, as well as individuals who have already promoted significant and successful innovations in the sectors mentioned above.

A specific trait of the Conference is its format, which is directed as a creative laboratory paying particular attention to audience interaction.

Following the format of a staged performance, the meeting departs from the conventional conference, in order to enhance participation and activation of the public, as well as an inclusive exchange of ideas. Contributors are invited to participate either with a 10 minutes long video statement or with a 20 minutes long commentary and discussion with the public. The event is held in 3 cities (Thessaloniki, Berlin and Basel) and is live-streamed on the official site of Artecitya and various social media platforms, which will distribute and deliver the content. Public attending the conference live as well as public worldwide attending via live-streaming can submit questions to the contributors via chat. Two moderators present a selection of the submitted questions to the contributors.

The stage design is created by the artists collective Practise(in)Cognition, who have emerged as a result of the Eric Ellingsen’s residency last Summer (more).
The language of the conference is English with a simultaneous translation into Greek and German.


Thessaloniki / Berlin / Basel

Organised by

Goethe-Institut Thessaloniki

Co-organised by

Hyperwerk Institute for Postindustrial Design – Academy of Art and Design – University of Applied Sciences & Arts Northewstern Switzerland

TIF – Helexpo


Municipality of Thessaloniki – LABattoir Project