LAURA _ AkiÓ-> Pützfrau. Kodekü residency, Bischofswerda, Germany, 2021.

This work was developed during 3 months of residency in Dogo, Lichtensteig, Switzerland.

The Installation is composed by old rags, donated by a collaboration of the city hall along with the citizens of Lichtensteig. Trying to reframe the undervalued meaning of this everyday material, these rags where sewed up together with other cleaning materials, creating a ludic aesthetics.

The Installation carries the “dirt” of the citizens of Lichtensteig, showing that domestic work is something intrinsic to the daily routine of any human being.

The installation works as scenario of the performance assuming different forms depending where the piece is being played.

LAURA _ AkiÓ-> Pützfrau. Dogo residency, Lichtensteig, Switzerland, 2020-2021.

The performance has as constant subject  “time”, approached as being part of the fabric of life, but also as gear of capitalism-> where time is €money€.

The length of  time which lasts the  performance is  stipulated between the performer and the audience. The time agreed is set in a kitchen alarm clock. The active participation of the public, answering the questions asked by the performer is vital for the development of the piece.

LAURA _ AkiÓ-> Pützfrau. Dogo residency, Lichtensteig, Switzerland, 2020-2021.

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LAURA_ AkiÓ-> PUTZfrau, is an installation/ stage performance, inspired by my experience as an immigrant domestic worker in Berlin and employer of a domestic worker, back in Brazil.

Based in this ambiguous experience of being employer and employee, the artwork casts a discussion on domestic labour, the advent of virtual platforms mediating it and the consequences of coronavirus to vulnerable women working in such sector.

The work draws a parallel between the artist profession, which is thought to be surrounded by glamour and status, and domestic work, which it still underpaid and poorly recognise.

LAURA _ AkiÓ-> Pützfrau. Dogo residency, Lichtensteig, Switzerland, 2020-2021.

The creative ferment of the work, came from my own experience as domestic worker in Berlin. Thanks to platforms as Helpling, I have been living in the last two years in Berlin working as a cleaner and Baby-sister. In Germany, domestic work is characterised by informality and is mainly performed by immigrant women – in this case predominantly from Eastern Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

Helpling thrived under these conditions and publicly promotes its platform as an antidote to Germany’s large Illegal  market of domestic services. The company pockets between 25% to 33%, from the amount that a Berlin-based customer pays for cleaning.

The experience of working in the  “care” domain by cleaning  houses, taking care of children and, back then in Brazil, in the field of public health care, opened my eyes  to  the studies of Nancy Folbre. Folbre is an American feminist economist, who has an extend work on “economics of care”. According to her, “care” is significantly undervalued, particularly in an economic sense. This is associated to the fact that caring has always been a “housewife” duty, a situation that started to change after the First World War. This gravitation of “care” from the family’s core to the economic market is her main research domain.

Nowadays labours related to care, like healthcare childcare, or house work, are still underpaid, feminized and racialized. The Rise of the Platform Economy just aggravates this scenario, amplifying existing power dynamics and inequalities, perpetuating and sometimes aggravating certain conditions of informality and exploitation by employers, which have long characterised domestic labour.

Printscreen from my account in  the Helpling platform, 2019

In attempt to mirror my situation of domestic worker in Berlin on Switzerland, I started to look for Brazilian immigrants who work on cleaning private houses in Switzerland.

During my research I had the pleasure to interact with different women, who agreed to share with me their experiences related to domestic work. The outcome of this conversations, was the creation of two videos:

video 1 and video 2

The videos  exposes the abrupt differences  between domestic work in Brazil, a country which has one of the largest numbers of domestic workers in the world- more than the whole population of Denmark- and Switzerland, a country which has one of the best salary wages worldwide.