Laboring Bodies

Laboring Bodies

2016 - 2018

Found burlap sacks, scrap fabric, embroidery thread,
tar, cement, rope, meat hooks

Dimensions variable

Jute sacks are used all over India to transport mass-produced agricultural goods and construction materials like sand and cement, most often on the backs of laborers. In a surprising and perverse transcending of the gender divide, one sees female bodies doing hard manual labor side by side with men on construction sites. In the globalized context, this homogenized work force of toughened, desexualized bodies, moves across national boundaries to build the sustaining infra-structures of development and opulence.

In this work, finer, softer and more colorful fabric is glimpsed through lacerations in the coarse, monochromatic texture of used jute bags that are scarred, swollen, and stained– setting up contrasts within and between bodies. The work meditates on the bodies of manual laborers that have been reduced to becoming a marker for zoe— ‘bare’ life— that have no sociopolitical power while other citizens in the community exist as bio— “qualified life”. Hanging from meat hooks these sacks remind us, how bare bodies and bare backs, deprived of dignity, perilously keep themselves stitched together with survival hanging by a thread while economic and biopolitical forces transform them into sites where humanity is regularly butchered, commodified and cannibalized.