Nightshift Spitalfields & Night Owls, Columbus

Nightshift Spitalfields, Julius-Cezar MacQuarie
Night Owls, Columbus, Future Firm

October 2-November 4, Nightly
Outdoors at 323 Brown St., Columbus, IN

Nightshift Spitalfields, Julius-Cezar MacQuarie
2020, 10:25 min

In this 10-minute documentary, Ali, a Bulgarian-Turkish porter at the night market, works six nights a week, often on 15-hour shift, loading and transporting goods. These nightshifts are incredibly demanding, mentally, emotionally and physically. Like Ali, many workers have families, but it’s almost impossible to have a proper family life when on graveyard shift duty. They can’t take proper part in society; they can’t organise to improve their conditions – they are just exhausted and worn down. These night workers are an invisible group of people who keep the city running with their labour. Those of us who sleep at night have no idea that they even exist, but without them, the supermarket shelves would be empty in the morning. That’s bad for them and likely even worse for London, which relies heavily on their labour to function as an urban metropolis.

Dr. Julius-Cezar MacQuarie is a filmmaker and anthropologist trained at Central European University. He is concerned with the invisibility of migrant nightshift workers from discussions on today's capitalism. He founded the Nightworkshop to research night work in global and smaller cities. He produced three short films (Invisible Lives: Romanian Night Shift Workers in London, UK, 2013) | Nocturnal Lives: Day Sleepers, UK, 2015 | Nightshift Spitalfields, UK, 2020) and a podcast (NightWorkPod, CEU Podcasts, Budapest, 2018).

Nightworkshop is a project set up to research migrant night workers in cities. It uses mixed methods to capture and make visible the hidden lives of night workers. The short films, photo collections and podcasts zoom into aspects specific to lives spent in physical labour at night. By building a bridge between the researcher, the protagonists and the audience, the exhaustion, embodied precarity and the hidden nature of night work appear in the spotlight

Night Owls, Columbus, Future Firm
2021, looping

What is the “midnight city”? This research explores the unique urbanism and socio-cultural conditions of the night-time city, specifically in Columbus, IN. This research expands on the topic of the “Midnight Palace” installation through mapping, surveys, and interviews. Mapping at the local and national scale will be presented each night, showing locations of night-shift workers and their demographics. Additionally, additional visual representations explore the idea of a discontinuous public space at the midnight hour: documenting the limits faced by those seeking food, amenities, and recreation in the nocturnal times. This project is building concurrently a series of live interviews with “night owls” in Columbus, IN, in order to better document the personal, experiential, and biological experiences of night time citizens.

Future Firm is a Chicago-based architecture and design research office. We design on behalf of the secret lives of cities, in collaboration with changemakers and dreamers. Founded by Ann Lui and Craig Reschke in 2015, the architecture practice spans diverse scales: from exhibition spaces to residential and commercial buildings to urban and territorial speculations. We focus on using design to synthesize the aims and efforts of multiple stakeholders, catalyze transformation for individuals and groups, and create flexible space for diverse needs.