Installation view: GUESTures, Kreuzberg Museum Berlin, until 28th July 2019

Margareta Kern: GUESTures
Kreuzberg Museum, Berlin
23/05/2019 - 28/07/2019

In discussion with Bosiljka Schedlich and Katja Kobolt, Monday 27th May 2019, 6pm.

GUESTures, a project that I started 10 years ago in Berlin, has come full circle! I am especially pleased that it will be shown at Kreuzberg Museum, where I started my initial research into labour migrations of the women who came from the socialist Yugoslavia to West-Germany, in the late 1960s as ‘guest workers’. Women made up a large proportion of migrant workers, yet their stories are largely left out of the official histories and archives.

GUESTures, a solo exhibition by Margareta Kern critically questions historical and gendered constructions of the figure of ‘guest-worker’, opening up themes of migration, precarisation of work and visibility of women’s labour. Displayed as an installation of connected works, the exhibition contains personal photographs, interview excerpts and letters from the women the artist interviewed in Berlin, who arrived from Yugoslavia in the late 1960s to work in factories making televisions and radios. Central to the exhibition is a two-channel film, a re-enactment that weaves in interviewed women’s narratives, archival footage from a Siemens factory and artist’s own labour of creating a film-set. Thus, there is a constant doubling-up at play: of memories and narratives, of time, of home, and of the image. 

GUESTures opens up questions about the role of Museums in archiving migration, its mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion and its potentiality as a counter-archive.

Further information here:

More about the project and research: From Guests to GUESTures: How to Speak Precarious Histories from a Precarious Position? in The Gastarbeiter: In Search of an Afterlife (published by eipcp – European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies, 2017).

The Unknown Knowns
Friday 29 March-Wednesday 22 May 2019

The Levinsky Gallery, Plymouth, Free admission

In a world where data is as valuable as land, how vigilantly are we protecting our most prized assets, and how much of ourselves is available on the open market? 

By sharing our personal preferences, thumbprints and 3D face scans how easily can we be tracked and influenced and who is watching on the other side of the telescreen?

In 'The Unknown Knowns', Plymouth-based curator Vickie Fear brings together artists using appropriated material to expose hidden truths and ask questions about the world we live in. Responding to the work of three filmmakers commissioned by the Arts Institute in partnership with the South West Film & Television Archive in 2018, 'The Unknown Knowns' makes connections between artists who draw from a range of sources, including public archives and popular culture. Contained in these works are conversations about privacy, media influence, propaganda, colonialism and truth. 

Are we living in a science fiction? What are we really scared of? And if the known unknowns are the things we know that we don’t know, what don’t we know that we know?

The following artists will be exhibiting in this exhibition: Chris Bailey and Ieuan Jones, Richard Broomhall, Margareta Kern, Tabita Rezaire, Marcy da Silva Saude, Erica Scourti.

Margareta Kern is exhibiting ‘bodies (that) can’t take anymore. images (that) can’t take anymore.

This is a partnership exhibition delivered by The Arts Institute and The Box, Plymouth.

Margareta Kern, Are You Ready? still from performance-lecture, 2018

Margareta Kern: Are You Ready?
Friday 22nd March 2019
Doors open at 7pm, performance starts 7.30pm
Ocean Studios, Plymouth, UK

Are You Ready? performance-lecture by Margareta Kern speculates on possible future scenarios where imaginaries of sovereignty and freedom have taken the shape of a sprawling, privatised ‘city-state’ on the ocean. 

Presented as a Ted-talk style business ‘pitch’ of a fictional tech-conglomerate named Ocean Global that is building its first island in Plymouth Sound, the performance confronts us with a privatised world where governments compete for ‘seatizens’ by becoming ‘service providers’ in a floating world whose only organising principle is free market and competition. Drawing on a range of existing libertarian proposals for the new floating ‘city-states’ or ‘seasteads’ that promise techno-social freedom on the ocean (imagined as the ultimate ‘terra nullius’) the performance explores how narratives of ‘freedom’ promulgate crypto-fascist tendencies and neoreactionary imaginaries, from the tech industry of Silicon Valley into our everyday. 

Are You Ready? is a provocative meditation on our contemporary moment where fantasies of exit continue to disrupt and fragment. It is also a powerful and hopeful search for a resistant algaerithm pulsating under the surface of our vision. 

The first wireless communication sent by Marconi over the open sea asked ‘are you ready’?

Supported by the Arts Council England Project Grant, 2018-2019 and Real Ideas Organisation. Commissioned as part of Whitstable Biennale 2018.

The Megascope, Fig. 24, in A. E. Dolbear: The Art of Projecting. A Manual of Experimentation in Physics, Chemistry, and Natural History with the Porte Lumière and Magic Lantern, 1877.

The Megascope, Fig. 24, in A. E. Dolbear: The Art of Projecting. A Manual of Experimentation in Physics, Chemistry, and Natural History with the Porte Lumière and Magic Lantern, 1877.

Friday 15th March 2019, 6-8pm
Margareta Kern and Susan Kelly: Nobody But Us

Centre for Law & the Humanities, School of Law, Birkbeck - Room 101

Birkbeck School of Law 2018-19 Artist in Residence Margareta Kern and artist Susan Kelly will share research from their new collaboration entitled Nobody But Us. The event is an open 2-hour seminar which assembles images and material that explore the connections between positive psychology, technology, governance and soft military power. 

Nobody But Us looks at the techniques of persuasion, instruction, coercion and prediction used by companies who specialize in big data ‘behavioural change’ and ‘influence operations’ (SCL, Cambridge Analytica, Google etc.), and the history of ‘dual use’ civilian and military research that enabled them. The project interrogates histories of dual psychological and military practice in counter-insurgency struggles in the former British colonies where ‘rehabilitation’ techniques were used to ‘cleanse’ and re-constitute compliant colonial subjects. 

The project begins to assemble documentary images, didactic images, instructional visuals, archives and diagrams that piece together a story that traces continuities between seemingly soft power and violence, then and now. Who are the main protagonists? How can we see the subtle techniques through which subjects are governed, made and re-made today? How are ‘technologies of the visual’ imbricated in these processes of subject-making and persuasion? 

This project probes at how psychological discourse and techniques provide acceptable cover for often deeply violent practices of subjugation, control and extraction. It seeks to intervene in the complex knot of processes that are today producing a society that is increasingly riven by protectionist, segmented and fascistic formations and is increasingly controlled by techniques of counter-insurgency and surveillance. 

‘Nobody But Us’ (or NOBUS) was a phrase used by the NSA (National Security Agency) in the US to refer to security vulnerabilities that they believed only their agencies can exploit (Zeynep Tüfekçi, 2018). NOBUS evokes an image of an exclusive collectivity, where the ‘us’ is made up of those who are the same as ourselves: a unified collectivity that must not be breached. 

Perceptions: The Beauty of a Flower is in the Picking
7th March - 27th May 2019
Group exhibition at The Museum Of Contemporary Art, Banja Luka, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Margareta Kern’s series of photographs titled ‘Graduation Dresses’ will be exhibited alongside other women artists from the collections of the The Museum Of Contemporary Art, Banja Luka and the British Council.

The exhibition in Banja Luka is named after the work of the first female artist in the Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art Sandra Dukić, who is recognised for her feminist attitude and action. The name is also a folk proverb, The Beauty of a Flower Is in the Picking, with which the artist visually plays wisely, wanting to draw attention to more radically re-examining the position of women in society. The saying also contains certain social and cultural characteristics, which, along with the economic and historical framework, can be the starting point for exploring the gender relations of this region. 

Exhibition curator Lana Pilipović divided the exhibition into four conceptual segments: exhibition consists of four conceptually separate sections, titled Reflection, Exposure, Gendered Bodies, and Spirit. The works have been grouped to reflect the dialogue between the artists, the similarities and differences between their artistic concepts, and the diversity of female expression – from personal, intimate stances, to their perception of the society they live in, as well as their interrelations.

The following artists are exhibited: Abigail Lane, Anthea Hamilton, Camilla Løw, Celia Hempton, Clare Strand, Elizabeth Price, Gillian Wearing, Helen Chadwick, Laura Aldridge, Lubaina Himid, Madame Yevonde, Rachel Whiteread, Sarah Lucas, Tracy Emin, Margareta Kern, Sandra Dukić, Nives Kavurić Kurtović, Irma Markulin, Marija Dragojlović, Svjetlana Salić Mitrović, Kosa Bokšan,Vesna Perunović, Lala Raščić, Borjana Mrđa, Biljana Gavranović, Kata Mijatović.

Wednesday 6th February 2019, 1.30pm
Listen to the Artists! LAW - ART - JUSTICE!
The Pavilion, University of Westminster, London

Contributing to the round-table discussion that attempts to trace the way contemporary art is changing and its newly forged connections to notions of law, justice and responsibility.

For further details, and to reserve a free ticket click here.

Thursday 7th February 2019
Uses of Lament: The Irish Famine and legacies of trauma
The University of Greenwich, Stephen Lawrence Gallery, London

I will be chairing a session at this half-day symposium that explores the idea of collective lament. A range of writers, visual artists and theorists will explore the somatic effects of oppression and suffering to disturb new truths about history and trauma and show how they can be re-presented through diverse platforms.

Followed by a performance of Cherry Smyth’s 'Famished', free tickets here.

Friday 25th January 2019
Counterpublic Consultations / Claire Louise Staunton and Margareta Kern
Rich Mix, London

The workshop will present a future scenario which speculates on the emergent powers controlling the spaces we live in. Participants will be provoked into considering the limits of citizenship and the potential for bottom-up governance in the built environment. The main focus of the workshop is to question the validity and efficacy of community participation in the future of planning and to propose experimental and imaginative methods for harnessing civic power. Counterpublic Consultations is a playful exercise which poses serious questions about democratic decision-making. Who will have the right to be consulted in 2052?

Part of Planning 2052 Conference, organised by Oslo Architecture Triennale.


I will be speaking about my current work and research on the militarisation of the ocean as part of Anne Robinson’s Wakeful solo exhibition, on Saturday November 17th, 2018, 3pm-6pm at APT Gallery, Creekdide, London,  SE8 4SA

Panel of artists: Anne Robinson, Margareta Kern, Andrea Luka-Zimmerman, Rachel Garfield and Veronique Chance - discussing artists’ responses to war and legacies of war violence.

Free, all welcome! Further info here.

Margareta Kern: ‘Are You Ready?’ performance-lecture, Thursday 8 November 2018, 6-8pm, at Birkbeck Cinema.
Reserve free tickets:
Followed by a conversation between Margareta Kern, Başak Ertür, and Bernard Keenan and general discussion.

Birkbeck Centre for Law & the Humanities is pleased to welcome Margareta Kern as the 2018-19 Artist in Residence at Birkbeck School of Law.

Margareta Kern’s practice deals with the politics of making visible forms of power and authority that are felt, yet not always easy to articulate or even perceive. In particular, her current work investigates the performative and mimetic strategies of digital capital, asking if an age of ‘fake news’ has destabilised conventions of ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’, what role is left for art? What kind of images and approaches do we need to cultivate, to counter reactionary and rightwing imaginaries generated by post-truth politics?

As an introduction to her work and ideas, Kern will present the performance-lecture ‘Are You Ready?’ on Thursday 8 November 2018, 6-8pm, at Birkbeck Cinema. First performed at Whitstable Biennale in June 2018, the lecture draws seemingly disconnected material together, from corporate literature and political speeches to undersea cables, planning applications, and sea monsters, to deliver a ‘pitch’ for a fictional libertarian tech-conglomerate building a new island-nation in a special seazone of the Channel.

The year-long residency will build on these ideas and questions, involving a number of events addressed to Birkbeck students, staff, and open to the general public. In particular, it will include a workshop based on a close reading of an Interim ReportDisinformation and ‘fake news’, recently published by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee. A result of an extensive inquiry, the report contains disturbing evidence of the use of psychological warfare online, to manipulate voter behaviour by companies such as SCL Group/Cambridge Analytica (most notably involved in both Trump’s election in the US, and the Leave campaign in Britain but have conducted behavioural change programs for the governments and military organisations worldwide). Kern’s residency will critically and collaboratively explore the legal and performative potentialities of an inquiry, informing the development of new work.

Kindly supported by the School of Law, Birkbeck and the Arts Council England Project Grant.

Group Exhibition and Forum
Lothringer13, Munich, Germany
26.9.-11.11. 2018

Migrating images. Defiant knowledge. Diverse experiences. Energies transforming society. Setbacks. Power. Aesthetic processes. Spaces. Fights for rights. Objections. Transgression. Lived her/stories. Social facts. Reflection. Rights to rights.

In the run-up to the public remembrance of the 50th anniversary of the labor recruitment agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia no stop non stop extends an open invitation to the exhibition, forum with art education, screenings, talks, panel discussions, and performances, in which audiences may both experience and co-generate new stories, imaginaries, and solidarity images.

For a full programme and info about the exhibition please see:

Exhibition review (in German): here.

Are You Ready? Performance-lecture by Margareta Kern
Presented with Jessica Harrington.

Whitstable Biennale
9th June 2018, 1pm and 4.15pm.
Sea Cadets Hall, 
37 Middle Wall, Whitstable CT5 1BN

What does the world of high frequency trading have in common with a sandy beach in Cornwall and the village of Richborough in Kent?

In this performance-lecture Margareta Kern uses telegraphic maps, corporate archives, nautical charts, sea monsters, planning applications, and wireless frequencies to trace resonances between the imperial ventures that laid the network of undersea cables and the secretive networks enabling the high speed movement of capital freely across increasingly entrenched borders.

Are You Ready? is a speculative meditation on the militarisation of the ocean and a search for the resistant algearithm pulsating under the surface of our vision.

The world's first known wireless communication sent over the open sea in 1897 asked -  ‘are you ready?’

This is a newly commissioned work by the Whitstable Biennale, with the support of Arts Council England, and Falmouth University Institute of Photography. For further details please see Whitstable Biennale page.

Exhausted (art) geographies text by Jelena Petrović

Moving from theoretical insights to art practices, especially those which introduce geography into the sphere of political thinking and social life through transgressive voices, visual inscriptions and aesthetical glitches, there are several artworks which produce the politics of error as a trigger for new art or a differential one. This still unsettled and undomesticated art comes from the counter-space of the so-called contemporary art, the art which has for some time been (re)generating the borders of identification using the geopolitical relations of the globalizing, i.e. colonizing, machinery of the neoliberal state.

Margareta Kern’s To Whom Does the World Belong? art project rearticulates the Brechtian question within the contemporary capitalist world, faced with poverty, unemployment, homelessness, global disorientation and possible social resistance. The political montage of her work, which uses stop/slow motion animation, drawings, voice, poetry recordings, video documentation, sounds and silences, produces an inner voice which directs us, occupies our thoughts and reorients our actions, simultaneously creating the syncretic experience (aesthesis) of political affect.

Continue reading HERE.

Zivot Umjetnosti Margareta Kern.png

TRANS|MIGRANCY: The Psychogeographies of the Threshold 

TRANS|MIGRANTNOST: psihogeografije prijelaza

The latest issue of 'Zivot Umjetnosti' January 2018, is on the subject of trans/migrancy and I'm pleased to have been interviewed by Jelena Pasic about my video and a long term project GUESTures for this timely publication.

Contributors include Keller Easterling, Artikişler Collective,  Ana Dana Beroš, Antonio Grgić, Ana Jeinić, Petra Kelemen, Tonka Maleković, Duga Mavrinac, Dubravka Sekulić, and others.

Available here.


6th and 7th October 2017

They'll Never Walk Alone: Remembering Gastarbeiters in the Neoliberal Age
Conference organised by Lina Dokuzovic and Boris Buden.
Participants: Manuela Bojadžijev, Jana Dolečki, Keti Chukhrov, Amir Hodžić, Ana Hoffner, Margareta Kern, Katja Kobolt, Monika Mokre, Stefan Nowotny, Jon Solomon, HOR 29. Novembar
Depot, Breitegasse 3, 1070 Vienna

Screening of GUESTures (GOSTIkulacije, 2011) and a presentation by Margareta Kern alongside a contribution to the online journal Transversal.

Conference details can be found here.

Transversal Online Journal: The Gastarbeiter: In Search of an Afterlife

The texts in this issue attempt to reawaken the memories of gastarbeiters in order to historicize the current experience of migration and its dangerous political appropriations. They aim at revealing a hidden genealogy of domination, exploitation, and manipulation, as well as a struggle for justice and emancipation. Those who cannot historicize the conditions in which they live will never be able to politicize them.

Read texts here.

14th June – 22nd July 2017

Margareta Kern, Božena Končić Badurina & Duga Mavrinac, Bosiljka Schedlich
Gallery Nova, Zagreb, curated by WHW

On Wednesday 14th June at 18h, Margareta Kern will be in conversation with Bosiljka Schedlich, whose words are re-enacted in the video GUESTures, and whose own exhibition from 1987 about the 'guest worker' women in Berlin will also be shown. Further info (in Croatian) here.

Poetics and Politics of Documentary: a documentary research symposium
2 - 4th June 2017,  Sussex University, UK

This symposium provides a rare and valuable opportunity to theorise documentary practice and to engage in dynamic discussion about documentary at the intersections between technology, aesthetics and ideology. This third edition of Poetics and Politics of Documentary will continue to explore the key themes of poetic praxis, with a particular emphasis this year on the theme “Beyond Empathy.”

I will speak about research for my new project 'Thursday War'.

Subversive Festival, Zagreb, Croatia
2 - 11th May 2017

Screening of GUESTures as part of the Subversive Festival and the exhibition Europoly. 

Kopf & Kragen
Galerie der Stadt Backnang, Germany
19 Nov 2016 - 12th Feb 2017

Graduation Dresses series of photographs is exhibited as part of 'Kopf & Kragen' group exhibition on portraiture. Artists include: Thomas Schütte, Grayson Perry, Caroline von Grone, Sabrina Jung, Jonas Englert, Gregory Forstner, Isolde Frepoli, Caroline von Grone, Wolfgang Kessler, Jan de Maesschalck, Loredana Nemes, Jacco Olivier and others.

Engaged Urbanism: Cities and Methodologies edited by Ben Campkin and Ger Duijzings
I.B. Taurus, UK,  December 2016

Margareta Kern in collaboration with Anthony Luvera has contributed an updated in-conversation text on her project GUESTures and Luvera's Assisted Self-Portraits. The publication poses the question: how can we understand the variety and dynamism of contemporary cities and urban experience across the globe? UCL Urban Lab

Margareta Kern and Jonathan Hoskins
SPACEX Gallery, UK
April - June 2016

In response to an invitation by Spacex and curator Claire Louise Staunton, the artists Margareta Kern and Jonathan Hoskins were in residence throughout spring and summer 2016, critically exploring the new town of Cranbrook as a physical and psychological proposal for a new community, in an historical moment when the role of the state in shaping urban development and providing social housing is being dramatically restructured. 

The project culminated in a contribution to the symposium Living Together on 28th June 2016. The small publication produced by Hoskins and Kern for the event can be downloaded here

Unbribable Life. Art and Activism
Nottingham Contemporary, UK
3 - 4 Mar 2016

Margareta Kern, Damir Arsenijevic, Vanessa Vasic-Janekovic and Emina Busuladzic from DITA Factory, hosted an event on contemporary labour struggles in the former Yugoslavia, discussing new forms of direct democracy, like the Citizen's Plenum that emerged out of protests in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2014, in relation to worker movements there and in the UK and Nottingham in particular.

The video from the event can be viewed here