Ines Schaber / Avery F. Gordon

The Workhouse (Breitenau Room)

The Workhouse (Breitenau Room) is a collaboration between artist Ines Schaber and writer-sociologist Avery F. Gordon produced for dOCUMENTA (13), that engages with the history of the former monastery, workhouse, prison, concentration camp, Gestapo camp, and girls’ reformatory. Over time, Breitenau has confined many persons considered extraneous and disposable, subjecting them to a regime of punishment and correction.

Consisting of photographs, text and audio files, The Workhouse (Breitenau Room) presents glimpses of fugitive knowledge that emerges in and around Breitenau. This knowledge carries a feeling for justice and embodies a principle – ‘what exists cannot be true’ – that brings to life what Ernst Bloch called the ‘not-yet’, thereby conjuring historical alternatives that could have been taken but were not.

The Workhouse is the name for a series of now completed activities and projects called ‘rooms’ organized by Avery Gordon and Ines Schaber. Overall the project’s activities are broadly concerned with the cultivation of ways of living and working independently/autonomously of, or outside of, or in opposition to, or as an alternative to, or alongside of but not entirely inside of the dominant terms of social order.

English and German text.

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