Ela Kagel is an independent cultural producer and curator working in the art and technology scene in Berlin. She has worked with organisations such as Upgrade! Berlin, the Free Culture Incubator and Transmediale. She’s also the director of SUPERMARKT in Berlin, a coworking space for freelancers with a political agenda.
Compared to the late ‘90s the percentage of freelancers in The Netherlands has almost doubled. Internationally, the European Forum of Independent Professionals reports an increase of 82% of freelancers in the EU between 2000 and 2011, with Italy and Germany leading this trend. Whereas working independently used to be mainly forced upon the creative class, it has become more common across other professions too, including teachers and artisans. It is indeed safe to say that the exploding number of freelancers critically changes the full time workforce, both nationally and on an European scale. What about the political consequences and societal representation of these independent operators?
Considering issues such as union organisation, pension savings and health insurance, freelancers often slip through society’s safety nets. As their numbers are increasing, so is the need to reform the traditional employer-employee structure of the economic and political system. Instead of waiting on political or corporate initiatives, Ela Kagel and her two accomplices, Zsolt Szentirmai and David Farine, stepped up to the challenge. SUPERMARKT is a coworking space for freelancers, artists and startups housed in a former grocery store in Berlin. Ela Kagel successfully combines her curation and production experience to create a space where freelancers can meet and exchange ideas as well as forge alliances for much needed political representation. A cafe and frequent exhibitions further facilitate encounters and connections between all kinds of freelancers and the people living in the neighbourhood. Through her knowledge of the practicalities of political coworking, Ela Kagel adds a unique perspective of the opportunities and possible difficulties of creating such spaces to MyCreativity Sweatshop. She will be taking part in the Creative Production after the Creative Industries panel discussion on Thursday, as well as leading the Political Coworking sweatshop on Friday.