N*A*I*L*S hacks*facts*fictions was initiated in 2018 by Ayşe Güleç, Katja Kobolt and Suza Husse as a transdisciplinary research project between UdK Berlin (Klasse Monica Bonvicini), the exhibition project no stop non stop at Lothringer13 Munich and the intersectional education project Caring for Confict by District Berlin and Institute for Queer Theory, funded by Projektfonds Kulturelle Bildung.

Photo: Liane Aviram

Collaborative publication on nailwork, art and migration.

By and with Anna Ehrenstein, Ayşe Güleç, DAMN / Deutsche Asiat*innen Make Noise, Dovilè Aleksaitè, Ferdiansyah Thajib, Inia Steinbach, Jinran Ha, Johanna Michel, Katja Kobolt, Kim Bode, Liane Aviram, Mareike Bernien, Suza Husse, Thao Ho, Yen Le, Vicky Truong
The magazine NAILS hacks*facts*fictions gathers different contributions that imagine the nail salon as a queer site of critical, trans-cultural practices and intersectional care politics.
Through the collected essays, interviews, collages and art works, nails are approached as a collective interface for getting in touch with the conditions liquefied in nail aesthetics and embodied in care work. An interface that is for hacking the ‘magic’ of commodity, for troubling biopolitics.

The collaborative publication combines reflections on the nail studio economy within migration histories in Germany and dialogues on nail design between artistic and survival strategies and diasporically situated knowledges. From mineral nail lacquer examinations to a perso*nail*ity test for finding one’s manicure persona and exercises in unlearning taste, from speculative architectural proposals for a nail workers congress to conflicts and responsibilities of art and knowledge making in relation to social and ecological vulnerabilities, from nail salon objects speaking their mind about racialized, gendered and classed circumstances they find themselves in to the histories of nail polish as industrial byproduct of car and film industries, from Cold War migration movements, aesthetics and economies to counter-sexual hand jobs – the diverse contributions move through hacks, facts and fictions, perspectives, embodiments and histories towards speculative imaginaries.
From within the conflicts and constraints of 2018/2019 daydreams and propositions open up to a future/present nail cosmology based on a fundamentally different metaphysics, in which hybrid hands crack open the outer shell of binary files, egos are abolished, conflicts are open ended, dance and hand movements interrupt colonial and patriarchal violence, care is an exchange at a molecular level between animate and inanimate bodies passing one another, stones can fly and the nail is a convivial organ.
As a space unfolding through and beyond its pages, N * A * I * L * S hacks*facts*fictions emerges from collaborative and open-ended artistic and activist research processes and conversational and manicuring transactions that began in spring 2018 and has involved Anisha Müller, Anna Ehrenstein, Ayşe Güleç, DAMN! / Deutsche Asiat*innen, Make Noise!, Dovilè Aleksaitè, Ekaterina Reinbold, Ferdiansyah Thajib, Inia Steinbach, Isabel Gatzke, Jana Koslovski, Jinran Ha, Johanna Michel, Katja Kobolt, Kim Bode, Liane Aviram, Mareike Bernien, Nanna Lüth, Nguyen Phuong Linh, Sugano Matsusaki, Suza Husse, Thao Ho, Yen Le / Le Nails Education Centre Berlin, Vicky Truong.


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Manicure Conference Modellage

Collaboration with Johanna Michel
3D Model display on touchscreen 

In this work an utopian architecture is designed for a potential global nail artist conference concerning women workers solidarity and biopolitics. Having researched typical arrangements of the manicure table in nail salon, the concept of the work was developed to deal with the architectural influence of the one-way interaction relationship between customers and workers. The tables in the artwork oscillate between the classical manicure table and a conference round table which references the non-aligned summit.

Two works by Jinran Ha & Johanna Käthe Michel unravel tensions and emancipatory potentials within a particular economy tied to feminised care-work and “migrant” working-places: that of the nail studio. Both works were developed in the context of the 2018 transdisciplinary research project and publication ‘N*A*I*L*S Hacks*Facts*Fictions’.

Manicure Conference Modellage extends this exploration into a potential emancipatory reconfiguration of relationships between spaces and bodies. The furniture of the nail studio is transformed into a round table that references the seating for the 1955 first summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Cold War anti-nuclear and anti-colonial diplomatic structure founded by nation-states identifying neither with Western nor Soviet-aligned powers. An interactive spatial arrangement arises that maps an alternative global order onto the nail studio: a space for clients and workers to discuss feminised labour, biopolitics, and solidarity structures eye-to-eye.
Text by Sonja Hornung

In Co-production with City of Women, Goethe-Institut Ljubljana, District Berlin, supported by Lenovo Slovenia.
* * * * *
Dialog of the Objects / Komische Fragmente

2018 - ongoing
Jinran Ha & Johanna Michel
artistic approach in the framework of N*A*I*L*S research
variations of excerpts of a fictional dialogue between objects
shown as printed wallpaper (plus 3D portraits of protagonists/objects)
printed booklet (147 x 210 cm) or Wallpaper (300 x 53cm)

(EN) The artists of different backgrounds disconnect from their own physical body, which is always concerned with indivisual privileges and violence due to certain inseperable constructions of identity categories. Instead industrially produced objects used in nail studios chat with each other- and “innocently“ touch matters of racism, sexism, identities, capitalism etc.. The talking objects are referring to Tretiakov‘s Biography of the Object. In the 1920s Tretiakov proposes that objects rather than people appear as protagonists in stories in order to get a better look at social conditions.

(DE) Die Künstlerinnen unterschiedlicher geografischer Herkunft, die beide eigentlich bildhauerisch und installativ arbeiten und dabei häufig Objekte in ihre dreidimensionalen Arbeiten einbeziehen, verlassen in Dialogue of the Objects / Komische Fragmente das Materielle und lassen die Objekte buchstäblich sprechen. Die Künstlerinnen trennen sich von ihrem menschlichen Körper, der immer von Zuschreibungen im Zusammenhang mit Geschlecht, Aussehen, Alter, Ethnie/Race etc. betroffen ist. Sie lassen stattdessen industriell gefertigte Gegenstände, die wir aus dem Nagelstudio kennen, unbefangen miteinander sprechen und beziehen sich dabei auch auf die Ideen aus Tretiakovs Biography of the Object. Tretiakov schlägt in den 1920er Jahren vor, Objekte statt Menschen als Helden in Erzählungen auftreten zu lassen, um gesellschaftliche Verhältnisse besser in den Blick zu bekommen. Die Objekte schrecken vor Vorurteilen, rassistischen und sexistischen Aussagen nicht zurücksprechen auch Unsagbarkeiten aus.
(DE) In Dialogue of the Objects / Komische Fragmente (2018 ff.) wird industriell produzierten Gegenständen aus dem Nagelstudio die Fähigkeit zu sprechen verliehen. Über ein digitales Interface unterhalten sie sich auf Vietnamesisch, Englisch und Deutsch miteinander. Das Gespräch entwickelt sich zu einer Auseinandersetzung mit scheinbar „unschuldig“ geäußerten rassistischen und sexistischen Stereotypen. Die Künstlerinnen greifen den Gedanken des sowjetischen Schriftstellers Wiktor Wiktorowitsch Tretjakow auf, die Perspektive von Industrieobjekten könne klarere Einblicke in gesellschaftliche Verhältnisse bieten als die von Menschen. Da das Nagelstudio ein etabliertes Geschäftsmodell darstellt, das es ehemaligen Vertragsarbeiter:innen ermöglicht hat, nach 1990 in Deutschland zu überleben, verweist die Arbeit gleichzeitig auf Ökonomien gegenseitiger Unterstützung, wie sie beim Arbeiten in einem oft feindseligen städtischen Umfeld am Werk sind.

(EN)Two works by Jinran Ha & Johanna Käthe Michel unravel tensions and emancipatory potentials within a particular economy tied to feminised care-work and “migrant” working-places: that of the nail studio. Both works were developed in the context of the 2018 transdisciplinary research project and publication ‘N*A*I*L*S Hacks*Facts*Fictions’.

In Dialogue of the Objects / Komische Fragmente (2018-), industrially produced objects used in nail studios are given the ability to talk. Via a digital interface, they chat with each other in Vietnamese, English, and German. The conversation develops into a negotiation of apparently “innocently” voiced racist and sexist stereotypes. The artists draw on UdSSR writer Viktor Viktorovich Tretiakov’s proposal that the perspective of industrial objects, rather than people, may offer clearer insights into social conditions. At the same time, since the nail studio represents an established business model that enabled former contract workers to survive in Germany after 1990, the work points towards economies of mutual support at work in an often hostile urban context.

Text von Sonja Hornung

Excerpts from the Dialog of the Objects

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