New Essay Series: Precarious Practices

Artists and culture workers on the reality of precarious life.


Critical theorists have been shouting ‘PRECARITY!’ in the faces of anyone who would hear them for years. We know the story by now. Or, so we thought. As I am writing this text, the world is in Corona-lock-down. It is only now that we really feel what precarity is, more than an ever-looming feeling of being on the edge: once crisis sets in, the precarious are the first to be hit. Structures of social security are shaken and dissolve. What follows is economic free-fall.

The crisis also shows the ever so frustrating limitations of theory. Because it is altogether unclear how this general understanding, the acknowledgment of our position in terms of precarity, can be turned into a political tool of change. From this tension, some questions emerge that we find urgent: how can the (knowledge of) precarity be turned into an emancipatory force? How can it be determined when precarity is acceptable or even productive – and when it is not? How can the discourse of precarity help to do something about the reality of precarity?

This is where Precarious Practices comes into the picture. The essays in this series are written by artists and art workers. They reflect on the precariousness of their own work and live. By refusing to speak of general theory, instead focusing on lived experience, Precarious Practices opens up the possibility to think about precarity in anew, from the situation of crisis. The various essays have different angles, but, ultimately, they all seek ways of being non-precarious, or at least less precarious together.

About Sepp Eckenhaussen

Sepp Eckenhaussen is a researcher at the Institute of Network Cultures. From 2020 until 2023, he and Koen Bartijn were the core team of Platform BK.