Activist, author and academic Silvia Federici, known for her research and commitment at the crossroads of feminist, anti-capitalist and anti-colonial struggles, presents the film Nightcleaners (1975). This carte blanche is part of a multi-day event with Federici in collaboration with Kunsthal Gent, Ghent University and Vooruit.
Nightcleaners was created by the Berwick Street Collective consisting of Marc Karlin, Mary Kelly, James Scott and Humphry Trevelyan. The collective can be seen as the avant-garde of the British documentary film of the 1970s with inspirations like Jean-Luc Godard and Chris Marker. Their films deal with political and cultural issues such as the conflict between underrepresented working class communities or the political hierarchies within trade unions and governments.
The film was originally intended as a campaign film to unite underpaid women who clean office buildings at night. The Berwick Street Collective changed the original form of the film as they perceived the complexity of the campaign and the different relationships and interactions within the groups. The result is a reflexive film in which the investigation of cinematic representation is part of the structure and purpose of the film itself.
Marc Karlin calls it a film “about distances”. “The film was about the distance between us and the nightcleaners, between the women’s movement and the nightcleaners, and was choreographing a situation in which communication was absolutely near enough impossible.”
Martine Vanneuville, cleaner at Ghent University and union representative, takes part in the film program. Silvia Federici will do a video introduction.