Exercises for Sabotage: Counter-planning from the kitchen

‘Counter-planning from the Kitchen’ was a collective reading and repairing session in the kitchen of Van Gogh House London that explored historical and contemporary issues around labor and production. With the key texts “Writings of the Luddites” by Kevin Binfield and “Counter-planning from the Kitchen” by Nicole Cox and Silvia Federici, we discussed what an (appropriated) technology by and for the worker could look like while using root vegetables to (learn to) mend textiles.

‘Counter-planning from the Kitchen’ was part of the more extensive research project ‘Exercises for Sabotage’.

The term “sabotage” is derived from the French word for “clog”: sabot.
The connection between the wooden shoe and deliberate acts of disruption stems from a form of sabotage used by French workers in the past: throwing a clog into a machine to halt production.

With Exercises for Sabotage, we aimed to imagine ways to disrupt current neoliberal dynamics of hyper-productivity, precarity, and individualism, which force current generations, our peers, into premature burnouts and create alienating work and social relations.
Taking inspiration from early industrial activist figures and groups such as The Luddites – an anonymous group of textile workers who smashed early industrial tools to protect their livelihoods and prevent their own redundancy – we want to learn to throw our clog back into the machine and create a technology that de-alienates us from labor and each other.

Supported by the Dutch Embassy in the UK and the Mondriaan Fund