Occupy, Resist, Produce

Solo exhibition of Oliver Ressler & Dario Azzellini / Curated by Dr. Azadeh Fatehrad

In most cases, a factory occupation is a form of protest on the part of the workers against the closure of the site, the relocation of production to another country, and so on. The action often quickly falls apart without any real results and the employers simply proceed with their plans. “Occupy, Resist, Produce” focuses on the rare, more powerful or perhaps more radical cases where the purpose of the occupation is, in fact, to bring production under the workers’ control. The workers do more than just protest here; they take the initiative and become protagonists, building horizontal social relationships on the production site and adopting mechanisms of direct democracy and collective decision-making.

The title of Oliver Ressler & Dario Azzellini’s solo exhibition “Occupy, Resist, Produce” refers to a four-channel video installation with the same title consisting of four films produced during 2014 – 2018 in occupied factories in Milan, Rome, Thessaloniki and Gémenos (near Marseille). In these cases, the workers were successful in bringing the labour under their control. Each film is based around conversations between workers. The workers' meetings or assemblies where decisions were made were also recorded. More particularly, the sites include the ‘open factory’ RiMaflow in Milan, the reuse and recycling centre Officine Zero in Rome, the organic cleaning products factory Vio.Me. in Thessaloniki, and the tea packing plant Scop Ti in Gémenos. For the future, it is planned to produce further films on occupied factories and to expand the video installation as the struggle of workers continues.

Oliver Ressler is an artist and filmmaker who produces installations, projects in public space, and films on issues such as economics, democracy, global warming, forms of resistance and social alternatives. Ressler has had solo exhibitions at Berkeley Art Museum, USA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade; Centro Cultural Conde Duque, Madrid; Alexandria Contemporary Arts Forum, Egypt; and The Cube Project Space, Taipei; as well as survey solo exhibitions at Wyspa Institute of Art, Gdansk, Poland; Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz; Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo – CAAC, Seville; SALT Galata, Istanbul; and MNAC – National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest. He has participated in more than 350 group exhibitions, including at Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid; Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven; MASSMoCA, North Adams, USA; and Centre Pompidou, Paris; as well as at biennials in Seville (2006); Moscow (2007); Taipei (2008); Lyon (2009); Gyumri (Armenia) (2012); Venice (2013); Athens (2013, 2015); Quebec (2014); Jeju (2017); and Kiev (2017); and at Documenta 14, Kassel, 2017 (as part of an exhibition organised by EMST). The artist has completed 31 films that have been screened at thousands of events at art institutions and film festivals, as well as for social movements. A retrospective of Oliver Ressler’s films took place at Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève in 2013. In 2002, Ressler won first prize at the International Media Art Award of the ZKM in Karlsruhe and he is the first prize winner of the newly established Prix Thun for Art and Ethics Award (2016). For the Taipei Biennale 2008, the artist curated an exhibition on the counter-globalisation movement, A World Where Many Worlds Fit. A travelling show on the financial crisis, It’s the Political Economy, Stupid, co-curated with Gregory Sholette, has been presented at nine venues since 2011. Ressler was the project leader of the research project Utopian Pulse – Flares in the Darkroom at Secession in Vienna in 2014, in collaboration with Ines Doujak and funded by the Austrian Science Fund. www.ressler.at

Dario Azzellini, Cornell University (Ithaca/USA), author and artist, holds a PhD in political science and a PhD in sociology. His research focuses on workers and local self-management, social movements and commons, with a special focus on Latin America and Europe. He has published several books, book chapters, journal articles and films. He authored Communes and Workers’ Control in Venezuela: Building 21st Century Socialism from Below (Brill, 2017). He is co-editor of The Class Strikes Back. Self-Organised Workers’ Struggles in the Twenty-First Century (Brill, 2018) and the editor of An Alternative Labour History: Worker Control and Workplace Democracy (Zed Books 2015). www.azzellini.net

Herbert Read Gallery, UCA Canterbury | New Dover Roa, Kent CT1 3AN | Canterbury | England