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Workers! is a film by artist and filmmaker Petra Bauer and SCOT-PEP, a sex-worker led organisation in Scotland. The film is the result of a long-term collaboration titled Nothing About Us Without Us, inspired by feminist film practitioners who emphasise the importance of making films with their subjects, not about them. Through an ongoing process oflistening and sharing ideas, Petra and SCOT-PEP were guided by the questions: how do you act politically when stigma prevents you from being public? How can you create new images of sex workers without revealing the identity of those involved? What is regarded as work and who has the right to work? How has (women’s) work been represented historically and what new strategies can be used for filmmaking today?
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 film was first screened in Edinburgh in 2018 and exhibited in early 2019 at Collective, Edinburgh, and Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Arts, Oldenburg.
The wider project includes a digitally printed banner by SCOT-PEP and artist Fiona Jardine; a folio of research designed by Maeve Redmond that was collated during the development of the project and compiles articles, books, film titles, online news, essays, reports and briefing papers shared between Petra Bauer, producer and researcher Frances Stacey, and SCOT-PEP members; and an archive of audio recordings that centre the voices of SCOT-PEP members as they expand on discussions that take place in the film, exploring topics such as representation and stigma.
This film is part of the “Collaborative Film Making” month. Each screening will be open for one week.
"A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world" (John Le Carré)