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"Don't ask who we are, but how we do"

Critical perspectives on representation, collectivity and emancipatory moving image production: Scuola senza fine and A la deriva por los circuitos de la precariedad femenina

Jul Tirler

Research Grantee Academy of Fine Arts Vienna | Dissertation Completion Fellowship 2022

The dissertation project examines manifestations and conditions of possibility of feminist collectivity and its representation based on two films that were collectively produced in different historical-political contexts: Scuola senza fine. Adriana Monti. I 1983 and A la deriva por los circuitos de la precariedad femenina. Precarias a la deriva. ESP 2003. Between 1979 and 1983 Adriana Monti produced the film Scuola senza fine (School without an End) in Milan in a collaborative process with non-working women who, in 1976/77, complete their secondary education in so-called 150-hour courses enforced by Italian trade unions and, after the end of the course programme, continue the further education courses in a self-organised way. The film addresses modes of subjectivation at the intersections of social power relations in relation to gender, age, locality and class position by critically negotiating issues such as reproductive labour, access to (formalised) education and cultural production. From 2002 onwards, Precarias a la deriva ("Precarious Women Adrift") organise weekly derivas ("drifts") in Madrid, in which a changing group of women visit the places that are central to their precarious working and living conditions. In 2003, the video A la deriva por los circuitos de la precariedad femenina (Adrift through the circuits of feminized precarious labour) is published, which, based on the self-organised derivas, addresses feminized precarious work in Spain.
I examine the conditions of possibility (context), the emergence (history of the associations), the actions (practices) and the form of collectivity that Scuola senza fine and Precarias a la deriva have created and bring the gained insights into dialogue with ideas of emancipatory and transformative collectivity as conceived in intersectional and queer_feminist critiques of collectivity. Methodologically, my project is based on approaches of critique of representation, which questions the production and reception of images in a power-sensitive way and takes the situatedness of knowledge into account.

My dissertation is located at the intersections of gender studies and studies on visual culture/cultural studies.

Keywords: collectivity, collective agency, collective moving image production, politics of collective identities, feminist theories and practices, intersectionality, queer_feminist critique, critique of representation, politics of representation, Scuola senza fine, A la deriva por los circuitos de la precariedad femenina

Short bio

Jul Tirler works as a theorist, lecturer, moderator and author, mostly in Vienna.
Their interests lie at the intersections of visual culture studies and gender studies with a focus on politics of representation and critique of representation, theories of collectivity, feminist theories and practices as well as collective film production and theories of precarity.


Tirler, J. (2022): Collective Image Production as an Emancipatory Feminist Strategy: The Examples of Scuola senza fine and Precarias a la deriva, in: You'll never work alone: Collective Infrastructures in Moving Images, Wien: Schlebrügge.

Tirler, J. (2019): Kollektive Filmproduktion als Strategie in Arbeitskämpfen: Les Groupes Medvedkine, Scuola senza fine und Precarias a la deriva, in: Janina Henkes / Maximilian Hugendubel / Christina Meyn / Christofer Schmidt (Hrsg.): Ordnung(en) der Arbeit. Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot, 265–280.

Tirler, J. (2018): „Precarias a la deriva“. In: Krisis. Journal for Contemporary Philosophy, Issue 2, 12–13.

Study program:
Dr. Phil.

Ruth Sonderegger