Unbribable Life I. Art and Activism in former Yugoslavia and the UK Protests, Plenums and the struggle for the commons 03 Mar 2016

3 Mar 2016


Join Workers from the Occupied Factory and Worker’s University in Tuzla in conversation with Nottingham’s Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation!

In 2015 workers at the DITA Factory in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, occupied and took control of a factory inactive due to bankruptcy and corruption. Drawing from the force of the plenums (public encounters for resisting state corruption held in Tuzla’s national gallery) workers have the factory up and running and are joined by activists, artists and researchers in founding a Worker’s University within the factory walls. How do the ideals of self-managed socialism find themselves in recent movements which contest the global webs of debt, corruption and neo-liberalisation on a global scale? How do these relate to histories of worker struggle in the Midlands and how they are being reconfigured, particularly when they are increasingly reliant on the so-called ‘knowledge economy’?

All are welcome to this event to discuss new forms of direct democracy, like the Citizen’s Plenum that emerged out of protests in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2014, in relation to worker movements there and in the UK and Nottingham’s own relationship to questions of Worker Control.

The event will be hosted by Tuzla activist Damir Arsenijević and Artist Margareta Kern with contributions from DITA worker occupiers, ally Vanessa Vasić-Janeković and local activists Tom Unterrainer and Tony Simpson from the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation.

Hosted by: Margareta Kern and Damir Arsenijević

6.30pm – 8.30pm

Free, The Space

If you are involved in worker movements and interested in attending a meet and greet at 3:30 pm please let us know at janna@nottinghamcontemporary.org
Participants include:

DITA Workers occupied the Tuzla-based detergent factory DITA, fighting the wave of corrupt privatization, exploitation and asset-stripping that has been destroying the industry of Bosnia and Herzegovina. For over two years they have guarded the factory around the clock to prevent the removal of machinery and assets. The process of privatization of DITA was carried out in collaboration with corrupt politicians, a corrupt judiciary, and banks that failed to carry out due diligence, providing toxic loans to the new owners — money that never reached the factory. They are resolved to maintain the occupation of the factory, moving into production and the setting up of a Worker’s University.


The Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation was launched in 1963 to carry forward Russell’s work for peace, human rights and social justice. Located in Nottingham, the Foundation is home to a number of projects related to left politics in the UK, including the journal, The Spokesman and a current project working with the archive of Ken Coates, a former miner, radical educator and co-founder of the Institute for Worker’s Control. http://www.russfound.org/about/about.htm

Margareta Kern is a visual artist and lecturer whose practice explores labour, migration, gender, construction of political agencies and subjectivities, informed by the ethos of collaboration, militant research and radical pedagogies. Kern holds BA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College and MA in Visual Anthropology, UCL. Her work has been presented across gallery and educational contexts, including Tate Modern, The Photographers Gallery, Centre for Possible Studies, INIVA, Shedhalle Zurich, SC Gallery Zagreb and most recently the Cultural Centre Belgrade. Originally from the former Yugoslavia, Kern has been based in the UK since 1992.

Damir Arsenijević is a Leverhulme Trust Fellow at De Montfort University, Leicester, U.K., leading the project Love after Genocide. He is an activist, academic and a psychoanalyst in training, working in Bosnia and Herzegovina. His latest edited book Unbribable Bosnia and Herzegovina: The Fight for the Commons was published by Nomos in 2015.

Vanessa Vasić-Janeković works in the intersections of art, theory and activism, researching and articulating registers and distribution of tensions inherent to knowledge production hierarchies and their economic underpinnings. Previously a journalist, Vanessa has covered all of the major 1990s conflicts, reporting on the existence of the camps in Bosnia and covering the war crimes trials for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. She is currently involved in the creation of a Worker’s University in Tuzla.

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