From the storefront, a full-scaled figure emerges from the wall, as if the plastered wall surface is elastic. Hands forward, the figure presents a black sheath dress. Inside the gallery, seventeen pairs of plaster hands similarly push out from the walls in a ghostly manner. A 20-minute film accompanies the installation featuring a garment manufacturing facility and its workers in Shantou, China. The factory belongs to Lafayette 148 New York, a New York-based fashion label. The cast hands in the gallery can be identified with some of the workers highlighted in the film. The gestures of each hand, contemplated and decided by the workers themselves, are expressions of their enacted labor.
This Visibility of Labor is an installation and film that deal with issues of labor in global textile manufacturing. More specifically it asks the question of how many pairs of hands go into the design and manufacture of a single garment? Collectively, the field of hands highlights the workers and their labor in the making of the dress, from design to research and development, and from production to shipping. Up close, the fidelity of the hands, with calluses, cuts, and wrinkles, bears evidence to one’s lifetime of work. The project attempts to make tangible the unseen labor by North American consumers who only know the finished product. The immediacy of the casting, as a one-to-one relationship, makes tangible their presence in the world where their labor is invisible.
9338 Campau Gallery: http://9338campau.com/pastevents.html
This project was made possible through the generous support from the Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning, University of Michigan, UMOR (the University of Michigan Office of Research), and 9338 Campau Gallery.
Film edited by Ryan Moritz
Rachel Mulder, Kasper O’Brien, Chris Pine, Andrew Thompson, Alyssa Bogdan, and Alexandra Martin
Thank you to:
Lafayette 148 New York and their team in Shantou, China
Anita Wong, Irene Tam, Cindy Yang, Sammy Wong, Sarah Zheng, Jonathan Chan
Special thanks to:
Deirdre Quinn and Harvey Lok at Lafayette 148 New York
And all the designers + workers who participated:
Emily Smith, Carla Chiaro, Barbara Gast, Cyndi Yang, Sam Wang, Cheng Yin Poon, Anita Wong, Irene Tam, Lam Sid Yin, Wong, Wein Nam, Hoi Yeu Wor, Lam Kein Sing, Jonathan Chan, Loi Mon Wen, Siu Seiu Chun, Hui Chong Nei, Lai Jing Yin, Zhan Shun Lang