Video, handwoven jacquard cloth, cotton, and quotation from Disposable Women and Other Myths of Global Capitalism: an ethnography by feminist geographer Melissa Wright, 2006
Feminist geographer Melisa Wright writes of the “myth of the disposable third world woman… who, through the passage of time, comes to personify the meaning of human disposability…[even as] she simultaneously produces many valuable things with her labor.” But this myth of patriarchal capitalism is an act of laborious and violent erasure, not an inherent truth. So, I ask myself, how I can do the work of undoing this myth. Can my art practice—my production of material things—function in this way?
Undoing (2012) is a direct response to Melissa Wright’s ethnography of violence against women and the maquiladora system in Juarez, Mexico. A viewer encounters the video on a 27-inch monitor that lays horizontal on a pedestal 36 inches tall. From where the viewer stands, as I would stand, my hands could be his or her own. Looking down, the viewer’s eyes could be mine as they take in the experience of weaving cloth, seeing as I would see. Standing at the loom/monitor, the viewer soon realizes that what they are experiencing is not the cloth being woven, but instead unwoven. And then, they realize, the cloth is not being unwoven, but rather, the video is playing in reverse. I want to undo the myth. But instead I produce it in another form. The woven cloth hangs above the monitor, clearly materialized despite its attempted deconstruction.