Space / Gather / Make

A mini-exhibit about shared machine shops at the Tate Modern

In autumn 2017, I was asked to curate a mini-exhibit for the Journal of Peer Production at the Tate Modern in October 2017 to explore the sights and sounds of shared machine shops from around the world as part of Art:Work at Tate Exchange.

In thousands of cities, towns and villages – from Japan to Ghana, from the Norwegian Artic Circle to the United Kingdom - open workshop sites are opening up where people can learn how to make things together with mentors, tools and equipment. Variously known as makersapces, hackerspaces and FabLabs, these shared machine shops equip users with powerful technologies, providing them with skills, networks, community and new livelihoods.

Indeed, some groups are using the collaborative possibilities of these sites to envision an entirely new kind of peer-to-peer economy that, in bringing the means of production to the people, promises a less exploitative, more autonomous, and more environmentally sustainable future built in the “occupied factories of peer production theory!” (Troxler and Maxigas 2014)

But what does worker-owned labour look and sound like in these vanguard workshops? And what happens when institutions like art museums, schools, business agencies, training colleges, academic research institutes and other collaborators start to tap into the autonomous and radical settings of these sites? How can economies of work, technology, and power be redefined while these sites are also affected by the attentions of institutions of capital and labour?

By showcasing the diversity of these sites and their perspectives on institutionalization from within the walls of a cultural institution like the Tate, Space / Gather / Make was able to critcally explore the role of labour and making at these sites with a wonderful group of makers and thinkers. 

More details about the exhibit can be found on the Space / Gather / Make website and on the Tate Exchange summary of the Art:Work week.