BLASPHEMIC READING SOIRÉE #27: Who cleans the world?

Thursday, October 17 November

Meeting Point: Auberg 2a, 4051 Basel

Clean air, clean water, clean houses, clean bodies, clean minds, and green spaces – this is how Françoise Vergès describes the needs of our time. In order to make this possible, we need the “invisible hands”: people who perform cleaning jobs discreetly. Who are the ones making spaces shiny for everyday’s activities? 

Vergès started to examine the relation between gender, exhaustion and race when she witnessed a strike of the black and brown women who clean Gare du Nord train station in Paris. Looking closer at the concrete struggles of female cleaning workers of color, she develops a decolonial feminism that works on the intersection of migration, the chemical industry, the economy of exhaustion, visibility/invisibility, race, gender, class, capitalism, and violence against women.

How does her text resonate in Switzerland? We are going to read “Capitalocene, Waste, Race, and Gender” together in the municipal cleaning centre of Basel (Stadtreinigung) and try to understand what differentiates cleaning domestic and public spaces, and how the clean/dirty division not only has a colonial heritage, but is still heavily connected to the militarization and gentrification of cities.

With us in the soirée is Ivan Rojas who works as a team leader in Stadtreinigung Basel-Stadt. He will share (in German) some insight in his work and be available for our questions.  

We also have a special guest via video, artist Mary Szydlowska, who is introducing us to her Cleaning Oracle-practice.

The text and soirée is held in English. All genders are welcome.

This evening is the third part of our trilogy loosely tied to Tinguely museum‘s thematic exhibition “Territories of Waste”.

©Museum Tinguely, Basel 2022
Fotos: Bettina Matthiessen

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