Nathalie Wuerth: Clair the Ear

9 Dec 2016 – 13 Feb 2017

Event times

KONSTHALL C re-opens 12 January
Opening hours during exhibitions:
Thursday - Sunday 11 - 5 pm

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Nathalie Wuerth’s project Clair the Ear continues her explorations into the voice and domestic labour and is connected to Konsthall C’s research programme, Home Works in which we explore the politics of domestic work and the home.


Wuerth’s practice often highlights the significance of overlooked activities or objects through an amplification, created by vocal and aural performance. Wuerth has supported her practice through working part time in call centres in which your voice and personality is put to work, while your body is seemingly left behind, at the door. In a time in which much work and objects have dissolved into the realm of the so-called ‘immaterial’, Wuerth seeks to activate the voice as a way of bringing an embodied understanding of everyday activities and objects. A recent project BEWARE (2015), saw Wuerth stretch her voice to produce an aural translation of a vacuum cleaner. The project aimed to understand the object physically through imitating its qualities and compelling Wuerth to learn about the history of the vacuum cleaner and its transformation. 

For Wuerth the voice becomes a tool of exploration, offering another language of experience in a world in which the visual is often privileged over the aural. How might we develop our voice as an instrument that communicates beyond speech or singing? How might it be used to imitate and understand the equipment that assists us in everyday life? Can this bring a different perspective on the technologies that we grow accustomed to living along side? Those sounds that perpetually hum in the background; the white noise of our inhabitance at home.

Our conversations with Wuerth started earlier this year, when she joined workshops that were part of Stephan Dillemuth’s commission Workers Variety Show Seek New Members! The workshops resulted in a variety show at the Konsthall where members reenacted situations from their workplaces, to embody, discuss and digest their working conditions. Like Wuerth’s use of the voice, by using their own bodies to demonstrate their work experiences, the members created not only a satire around their precarious working conditions but also exposed the key exploitation within work – the worker’s body - their potential as labour power. Together we have discussed the instrumentalisation and controlling of the body as explored within Silvia Federici’s book Caliban and the Witch, in which she writes, “We can see, in other words, that the human body and not the steam engine, and not even the clock, was the first machine developed by capitalism.” [Autonomedia 2004:146] Following Dillemuth and our research into the work of Federici we organised a symposium called The Home within Homecraft which invited Federici to expand on her thinking around domestic labour informing the development of Wuerth's project Clair The Air.  Therefore, within this exhibition guide we have republished a conversation with Federici that was written for the last issue of Swedish Art Magazine - Paletten which connects to many of our discussions together.

Clair the Ear expands on Wuerth’s concern with the devaluation of domestic work and the value we ourselves attribute to the daily tasks of cleaning, cooking and caring. How much time do we spend on these kind of tasks throughout each day? Can we draw a line between what happens in the home as the space where we perform domestic work or in fact do these duties bleed and wrap around other tasks we carry out elsewhere? Does our time spent at ‘work’, the place of paid labour also involve these tasks? Who is caring for your home and workspace? 

The creation of domestic appliances; the dish washer, the hoover, the microwave, was proposed to reduce time spent on the necessary reproductive tasks of everyday life.  However, much research has shown that new technologies contribute to the expansion of this work within and outside the domestic sphere. As Wuerth showed in BEWARE these technologies also individualise domestic tasks and her solo performance of the vacuum cleaner emphasised the isolation associated with domestic work.  Thus, Wuerth decided to set up Clair the Ear a cleaning company - a choir of vacuum cleaners, dish washers and tumble dryers that in their collectively would socialise our often isolated domestic work.

Throughout a series of workshops this Autumn Nathalie has been exploring with a new ensemble our individual relationship to domestic work trying to understand how we categorise domestic work and how much time we spend on this type of labour. After sharing our private performances we came together to produce a score of this work, a choral transcription that would carry out this work collectively within the walls of Konsthall C’s kitchen.

As air enters each of the performers mouths, it is ritually cleansed in each of their lungs and released back into the kitchen at Konsthall C. Clair the Ear is a special cleaning company offering a spiritual cleanse that reconfigures your home space. If you would like to book Clair the Ear to clean your home please email j@konsthallc.se


Exhibiting artistsToggle

Nathalie Wuerth


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