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Ecologies of sustenance – Workshop by Adelita Husni-Bey

Welcome to the 4 day workshop led by Libyan-Italian artist and pedagogue, Adelita Husni-Bey. “Ecologies of Sustenance” is part of Holes, Spirals & Waves , a programme that invites researchers, artists and cultural practitioners to question forms of chrononormativity by experimenting with alternative time-scales, diving into subjective tempos and sensing forms of diachronicity.

Ecologies of sustenance is a workshop drawing from Adelita’s research over the past two years into pandemic-era developments in the field of what is termed ‘essential work’. The workshop addresses the histories of the capture of carework in capitalist economies and focuses on the paradigmatic contradiction: how are certain workers both necessary, expected to work and undervalued, underpaid, put at risk and abandoned. What mechanisms of de-capture are possible? What urgent tools for analysis are available to us? What examples of radical healthcare practices can we study together? What can the ecological origin of the pandemic tell us about the future of both necessary work and mass disease? How can the concept of ecology be used relationally to rigorously analyze alternatives to superexploitation in healthcare and other essential sectors?

Adelita Husni-Bey

ON NECESSARY WORK, 2021 (still), HD video, Zoom.

Partially based on the writings of Angela Mitropoulos and marxist epidemiologist Rob Wallace, the workshop will present the students with feminist, anti-racist alternatives to the neoliberalization of healthcare, through radical histories such as the Young Lord’s hospital takeover and ACT UP’s organizational model developed out of class struggle. The workshop will use political theater techniques to address and develop some of the keywords and themes of the workshop – which will include readings, discussions, embodied pedagogy and screenings. What is the essential work that needs to be developed to safeguard primary ecologies of sustenance?

Project supported by the Italian Council (10th edition, 2021), program to promote Italian contemporary art in the world by the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity of the Italian Ministry of Culture.


Pre-workshop: Mandatory reader and exercise (‘images of necessity’) assigned

6 September, 13:00–17:00

Intro day: work and necessity. Basic ‘image making’ (embodied work) around key terms and group intros


7 September, 13:00–17:00 and 18:30–21:00 (17.00-18.30 break)

Day two: Group development of embodied images, conversations – Staci Bu Shea teach-in and dinner with participants from Vård och Värde

Staci Bu Shea: Dying Livingly
In the context of Adelita’s work and residency, Staci Bu Shea introduces their long-term, transdisciplinary project Dying Livingly. In Europe and North America, death care has long been outsourced and operating an ambiguous consumer experience in tandem with increased medicalization and a death avoidant culture. Caring for our dead is not only necessary work, but something many of us would like to do if only we had more education, guidance and support. In order to imagine future, radical potentials of death care, Staci shares a brief history of hospice and reflects on its architecture and communal life (as a death commons), and emphasizes shifting material relations and emergent cultures in end of life care.

Vård och Värde: Artist Care Worker Dinner
As part of the workshop ”Ecologies of Sustenance” with Adelita Husni-Bey, the Swedish collective project Vård och Värde (care and value) – exploring the working conditions and experiences of care work in Sweden will host a dinner conversation in which some of those involved in Vård och Värde will share their ongoing work. One of the starting points of Vård och Värde is the fact that in Sweden many artists work in care work. Throughout Vård och Värde there have been a number of dinner events to reflect on the practices and experiences of artists working in care work to collectively think together around the working conditions of care and cultural work. At IASPIS, Sarah Kim, Ingela Johansson and Martin Nordström will share some of their organising, research and experiences of the conditions of care work in Sweden, while Ulrika Flink one of the editorial group of Vård och Värde will share some of the wider context of the collective work.


8 September, 17:30–20:00
Day three: Adelita’s presentation and screening of On Necessary Work at IASPIS


9 September, 13:00–17:00
Day four: Conclusions, defining necessary work from the perspective of primary ecologies of sustenance and the refusal of salaried labor



Participation is free and it doesn’t require any specific knowledge. Only 10 spots are available.

We ask participants to fully commit for the overall length of the workshop (4 days). The workshop is in English. To participate, please send an email with your name and contact details to both: Victoria McCarthy and Valerio Del Baglivo


Adelita Husni-Bey is an artist and pedagogue invested in anarcho-collectivism, theater, and critical legal studies. She organizes workshops and produces publications, broadcasts, and exhibition work using non-competitive pedagogical models through the framework of contemporary art. Involving activists, architects, jurists, schoolchildren, spoken-word poets, actors, urbanists, physical therapists, students, and teachers, her work consists of making sites in which to practice collectively. Her work was part of the Italian pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale, Venice, 2017, and her most recent solo exhibition was The Reading, curated by Margarida Mendez, Appleton, Lisbon, 2021. She participated in Trainings for the Not Yet, BAK, Utrecht, 2020, Being: New Photography 2018, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2018; Dreamlands, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2016; The Eighth Climate, 11th Gwangju Biennale, 2015; Really Useful Knowledge, Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid, 2014. She is a 2020-2022 Vera List Center Fellow with a project centered on the radical changes in social relations brought about by responses to past and current pandemics.

Staci Bu Shea (b. Miami, 1988) is a curator, writer, and death companion based in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Broadly, Bu Shea focuses on aesthetic and poetic practices of social reproduction and care work, as well as its manifestations in interpersonal relationships and daily life, community organizing and institutional practice. Bu Shea currently teaches at Sandberg Institute (Amsterdam, 2022) and Royal Academy of Art (The Hague, 2023). Bu Shea was curator at Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons (Utrecht, 2017-2022). With Carmel Curtis, they co-curated Barbara Hammer: Evidentiary Bodies at Leslie Lohman Museum of Art (New York City, 2017). Bu Shea graduated from the Center of Curatorial Studies at Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson, 2016).


Image designed by Mika Kastner Johnson