San Precario: Prayers From Architectural Workers

Oh Saint Precarious,
Protector of us all, precarious of the earthDesign
Give us paid maternity leave
Protect chain store workers, call center angels,
and all flexible employees hanging by a thread
Give us paid leave and pension contributions,
income and free services
keep them from being fired

Saint Precarious, defend us
from the bottom of the network,
pray for us temporary and cognitive workers
Extend to all others our humble supplication
Remember those souls whose contract
is coming to an end,
tortured by the pagan divinities:
the Free Market and the Flexibility
those wandering uncertain,
without a future nor a home
with no pension nor dignity
Grant hope to undocumented workers
and bestor upon them joy and glory
Until the end of time


San Precario Prayer Cards

San Precario is a prayer that comes to us at the Architecture Lobby from various places.  One is certainly neoliberalism and an economy that celebrates the gig economy.  The gig economy makes a certain kind of worker: white collar, well-educated, middle class, excited about entrepreneurialism, but also gives us a precarious model.  The San Precario prayer also comes to us from Italian workerism, which is a movement that started well before the gig economy, but has since become a working model that the Italian workerists both criticize and celebrate.

The prayer itself became a model for the Architecture Lobby.   The prayer became an opportunity for us to send out invitiations for architects that we knew to write their own prayers and send in their own image.  It was a known invitation for workers to express their joy or anxiety about being precarious workers. But, in fact, what we got back, was much more informative than we expected.  The variety of what people were praying for and asking San Precario for was very informative to us.  And so this exercise became more than just something to prove existing ideas but began informing our future efforts.  It was a demonstration by not just the architecturally employed but for those that felt not in constrol of their art or creativity.  In many ways, this exercise laid the groundwork for future lobby work.

Download all the San Precario Prayer Cards here.

San Precario Exhibition

The Architecture Lobby and the North School Studio initiated a Kickstarter campaign for a new exhibition, proposing exciting additions to the Weigh Station in Callicoon, NY that will become permanent resources for the future North School Studio:

  • A new curtain facade will tastefully delineate our front porch from the road, creating an intimate gathering space, while protecting people from traffic.
  • A custom projection screen will facilitate film screenings and presentations.
  • A modular flooring system made from solid hemlock for dynamic custom seating.
  • A gallery display to share research, artwork and other 2-dimensional media.
  • And a faux baroque alter for San Precario himself.

Your financial support will expand the capacities of North School Studio by allowing the Weigh Station to host engaging public events. It will also help advocate for better working conditions for precarious workers across all sectors of the economy. It will especially help the Architecture Lobby express how these issues exist within the field of architecture. Our exhibition will take place August 15 – 17, 2014.

Visit our Kickstarter page for more information.

“Since February 2004 San Precario, patron saint of precarious, casualised, sessional, intermittent, temporary, flexible, project, freelance and fractional workers, has appeared in various Italian cities. The saint appears in public spaces on occasions of rallies, marches, interventions, demonstrations, film festivals, fashion parades, and, being a saint, processions. Often he performs miracles. Although the first appearances are recorded on 29 February 2004, San Precario has multiplied and materialized in different disguises. Equitable in his choices, San Precario does not privilege one category of precarious worker over another, and he can appear in supermarkets in urban peripheries, in bookstores or, glammed up, at the Venice Film Festival. […] It is also a tactic to make visible issues arising from the increasing casualisation of the work force. At a different level it can be considered a site of mythopoetic production.”

— Marcello Tarì and Ilaria Vanni