This month we have been delighted to host a striking and powerful mural from The Invisible Worker on our outdoor gallery wall.
Despite facing our pessimistic warnings that the wood they used as frames may be pulled of the wall for Turbo-Island-party-fire-fuel, and intercepting a broad daylight attempt to steal Diego’s bicycle, Robbie and Diego have made visible these otherwise hidden lockdown stories from the precariat.
This mural has engaged an unusually high number of passers by, finding themselves drawn in by these compelling real world tales.
The mural will be on show until the end of September, and is part of a wider Invisible Worker project. This week the team behind this project sent us this message about it, reproduced in full below…
“First off I’d like to say a big thanks to Lisa & everyone at PRSC for having us at the mural wall. They’ve been a constant source of help and support whilst me and Diego faffed around trying to wallpaper paste up posters in a gale force wind.
The invisible worker is a project which aims to look at the changing nature of precarious work within contemporary capitalism and how digital technologies are radically shaping the frontiers of power and control within the workplace. This isn’t about looking at the future, it’s not about our (potentially) automated future, but looking at the here and now, about how smartphones, computers and the internet are changing how work is structured today and how they are being used to spread increasingly short term and precarious work throughout our economy.
When the full extent of the pandemic became apparent in March, many of us feared for our livelihoods. I myself was panicked, not just for myself but for the millions in this country who are just getting by. It must be said that the steps taken by the government were unprecedented – who knew that a tory government would roll out an 80% furlough scheme and increase government borrowing to previously unseen levels? But what quickly became apparent was that people were falling through the cracks and that an understanding of the nature of precarious work and it’s social, legal, economic and political constituents was now more necessary than ever. How would we ever learn from this crisis if we did not collect the stories of those who were being left out?
So in April, we put the call out for people to tell us their stories and set about contacting people in various forms of precarious work asking them to write for us in return for payment. We worked with each individual to help them write an article exploring their own unique experience during the pandemic. This took place over several months throughout the crisis and resulted in a total of 11 stories, ranging from a gig worker in the States, a Sex worker in Poland, to a Latino cleaner in London.
Our exhibition at the mural wall at PRSC is based on this work, showcasing 5 of these stories and we’ve now compiled all the full stories into a zine which we are selling at our website. Overall we’re selling them at cost price, but we want it to be accessible to everyone so have a free option if you’re facing financial difficulty. I think what the issue as a whole showcases in the various ways in which vulnerability to crises manifests. This vulnerability is not static but ebbs and flows like the tides. Nor is it linear, some things which on the face of it would seem to place you at risk, may end up actually protecting you.
The process of putting up the exhibition at PRSC was also really enlightening. People came up and chatted to me about their own experiences, told me about how they’d lost work, how they’d been left scared and without support, or spent hours on the phone to Universal Credit. This is something currently lacking from the exhibition currently, a way to continue the conversation. If anyone has any ideas on this, please let me know as I’d love to hear them.
We’re running a second part of the exhibition, which is a showcase of all 3 issues we’ve released, that will take place at the Vestibules of the 21st, 22nd, 28th and 29th of September.
Here’s a link to where you can buy the zine: https://theinvisibleworker.bigcartel.com/“
Words by Robbie, from The Invisible Worker