The Work We Share: A Question of Choice / Precarity Story, Screening and Conversation
09 DEC 2023 2PM–4PM
Register online here
A special screening of A Question of Choice and Precarity Story followed by a conversation responding to the themes organised as part of The Work We Share and artist Annie Goh who was invited to create a response to A Question of Choice.
Sheffield Film Co-op, A Question of Choice (1982)
A Question of Choice features a small group of low-paid women workers – two cleaners, a cook, a lollipop lady – and a male caretaker in a school in Walkley, Sheffield. The participants describe the limited employment choices available to women when family remains their first priority. While the work they do is hard and poorly paid, it does offer them flexibility, with hours that fit in with their family lives, as well as affording them close contact with the community and their childrens’ education. Beyond the work that they do in the school, these women run activities at a local community centre and organise events for children in the local area.
Precarity Story (2020)
Precarity Story tells the work story of Isabel, a cleaner, hourly-paid teacher, and researcher in the same British university. Her story stands as an example of the increasing casualisation of university labour and its human consequences. Filmed during the 2018-2020 UK higher education strikes, Precarity Story exposes the little-known reality of the academic precariat and fuels the ongoing public debate on the devastating effects of neoliberal policies —and, now also, Covid-19— in British higher education.
This event has been organised by artist Annie Goh who has been involved in the UAL End Outsourcing campaign since 2019, a campaign calling for the University of the Arts London (UAL) to end the outsourcing of cleaning contracts across all its college and campus sites. Invited into conversation will be Jenny Woodley from Sheffield Film Co-op, and Lorena Cervera and Isabel Seguí, the Directors of Precarity Story (2020).
The event forms part of an ongoing Cinenova programme titled The Work We Share, a film programme of ten newly digitised films from the Cinenova collection. Produced between 1972 and 1994, the films address oppositional histories and questions of difference through the lenses of gender, race, sexuality, health, and community.
The Work We Share gathers a number of films that previously existed in precarious conditions, in some cases, with negatives being lost or distribution film prints being the only copy. This program intends to acknowledge Cinenova’s interdependency: from organisation to filmmakers, cultural workers, communities, and individuals. How can we acknowledge our interdependent relationships? How can we recognize our place in a network of communications, relationships, and resources, particularly as an un-funded volunteer organisation? What different strains of labour does our work rely on? How do we sustain this work mutually?
Annie Goh is an artist and researcher working primarily with sound, space, electronic media and generative processes within their social and cultural contexts. She completed her PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London in 2019 on archaeoacoustics and sonic knowledge production, where she was also a Stuart Hall Foundation PhD Fellow. She co-curated the discourse program of CTM Festival Berlin 2013-2016 and is co-founder of the Sonic Cyberfeminisms project since 2015 with Dr Marie Thompson. She is Lecturer & Course Leader of BA Sound Arts at London College of Communication, University of Arts London.
Sheffield Film Co-op
In the early 1970s the second women’s liberation movement was engaging in raising consciousness about issues women faced in their domestic and work lives. It was soon clear that there was a need to disseminate feminist ideas about the issues to a wider audience than those women already attending meetings. A small group of women with young children in Sheffield realised that film could be a powerful means of giving women the voice that they did not have in the mainstream media. With funding from Channel 4’s Independent Film and Video Department, SFC later went on to make films for broadcast and to help train new women filmmakers.
Born in the Spanish state in 1973, Isabel Seguí is a feminist film historian and Lecturer at the University of St Andrews, with an expertise in Latin American working-class women’s cinematic practices in non-fiction formats. Her research work has been recognised with awards by the British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies (BAFTSS Awards 2019) and published in different journals and edited collections in Europe and the Americas. She has recently completed a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship for a three-year postdoctoral project on women’s nonfiction filmmaking in Peru. The collaborative nature of this documentary about her life as a precarious worker mirrors her own research interests, turning it into an action-research project.
Lorena Cervera is a filmmaker, researcher, writer, and lecturer. She works as Senior Lecturer in Film Production at Arts University Bournemouth and holds a PhD in Film Studies from UCL. She has published articles in international journals such as Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media andFeminist Media Studies and has co-edited a special section on feminist film collectives in Latin America for Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media. Her first monograph, A Feminist Counter-History of Latin American Documentary, will be published by Routledge in 2025. As a filmmaker, she has worked in several non-fiction films and has directed Pilas (2019) and co-directed #PrecarityStory (2020). Currently, she is developing the transmedia project Processing Images from Caracas.