Film screening programme about economic injustice

film screeningMonday 16 December '19

Focus Filmtheater, Arnhem(archive)

Host: Catelijne de Muijnck
Free for ArtEZ community, if registered via the form below. Other people can buy a ticket at Focus Filmtheater.

We move on to the second edition of Precarious Nights with a screening of Sorry To Bother You, a modernly vicious satire about a young black man, by the name of Cassius (or Cash), who lands a job as a telemarketeer in times of financial precarity. In order to make his way up in the company, he is advised by Langston, a wizened co-worker, to use his ‘white voice’:

“White voice is an ideal that not even the white man can attain” (…) “It’s what they wish they sounded like, what they’re supposed to sound like.”

Cassius abides and soon reaps the rewards as he is literally moved up to the top floor and becomes a celebrated ‘powercaller’, now asked to take on the more difficult sales: arms and slave labor through Worry Free Corporation, a company that offers “free” room and board in exchange for a lifelong commitment to unwaged labor. Twists, turns and uncomfortable mirrors with this film.

In the meantime, his colleagues from the ground floor are organizing themselves into a union to take on the WorryFree Corporation, under the moniker ‘Left Eye’. Cassius is lost in a search for doing something that literally counts ($) and acting in solidarity (✊). And then in the end, horses!

Accompanied program with a.o: Joram Kraaijeveld from Platform BK.
More and more, public services are being privatised and we find ourselves facing collective struggle individually. Joram Kraaijeveld contributes to this Precarious Nights by re-entering 'solidarity' into the conversation, as a productive concept that can move across interests and can offer a sense of political belonging.

About Platform BK
Platform BK is a strategic coalition that mobilizes existing networks and maps out new connections in order to develop a foundation for joint action and spokesmanship. Our aim is to positively affect the current perception and public opinion of arts and culture; to influence political decision making in conjunction with existing interest groups; and to put forward new logics that can (re)define the significance of art.

Reading material

Robin D. Kelley on Sorry To Bother You and Boots Riley:
DUTCH: Interview met Pascal Gielen (socioloog, onderzoeker) en Matthijs de Bruijne (kunstenaar) over het precariaat in de kunsten:
"Zeker in de beeldende kunst leeft nog altijd heel sterk het idee dat je je sociaal moet afschermen om artistiek autonoom te zijn. Ik herinner me een interview met Thierry De Cordier: “The social will be the death of you!” Dat geloof ik niet. Er moeten modellen zijn waarbij je je vanuit een breed collectief toch individueel kan profileren in de kunstwereld."
Workers at the Guggenheim vote to unionize:
Wendy Brown answering: ‘what exactly is neoliberalism?
DUTCH: Recensie van Wendy Brown’s boek Het Ontmantelen van de Demos:
Turner Prize 2019: Can the Art World Call an End to Competition Culture?

About the programme

precarious [ pri-kair-ee-uhs ]

Adjective ~ from Latin precarius: "obtained by asking or praying". A legal word, 1640s: “held through the favor of another”.

Synonyms: uncertain, problematic, delicate, unhealthy, insecure, on thin ice, unsafe, unsure, ticklish, slippery, unsettled.


Existential vulnerability is by no means solely a phenomenon of current times. We will be and always have been dependent on each other. In the words of Judith Butler:

““We are . . . social beings from the start, dependent on what is outside ourselves, on others, on institutions, and on sustained and sustainable environments, and so are, in this sense, precarious.”

As an instrument of governance, precarization however, is used to normalize a massive reduction of permanent employment contracts, the so-called “flourishing” of a gig economy with minimal or without security benefits, rising inequality and social exclusion. Under the domination of this process, some bodies are distinguished as in need of protection of precariousness, while others are not. Precarity does not limit itself to our relation to work, but it affects our sense of self and how we relate to others.

PRECARIOUS NIGHTS screens three films addressing this topic of precarity, precarization and precariousness, to understand our mutual dependencies and vulnerability and to unsettle hierarchical ideas of class formations. We will walk this slippery slope together with artists, researchers and activists who will introduce the films by means of performance, lecture or other delicate formats.

PRECARIOUS NIGHTS is a collaboration between WALTER books, Studium Generale ArtEZ and Focus film theater.