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vol.42 issue1'The voices of the people involved': Red, representation and histories of labourThe production of Red: aesthetics, work and time author indexsubject indexarticles search
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Kronos

On-line version ISSN 2309-9585
Print version ISSN 0259-0190

Abstract

MAC GREGOR, Helena Chávez. The factory as a battlefield. Kronos [online]. 2016, vol.42, n.1, pp.90-102. ISSN 2309-9585.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2309-9585/2016/v42a6.

The crisis of labour is also one of representation. Some contemporary artists working with moving images have been questioning how to represent capital, labour and the worker. Isaac Julien or Harun Farocki, for example, have focused on interlacing characters - from fiction or reality - with geopolitical spaces in order to present the entanglement of the economical new order with the new forms of labour. The South African artist Simon Gush has shifted from this trend in order to present labour without directly representing the workers. In his artwork there is no longer a search for the political subject as a historical force or for the individuals who occupied its place; instead he leads viewers to a critical reading of an object, allowing a staging of the past from the viewpoint of the present. That is what I think Red does. In this article I explore Gush's connections with Marx, Benjamin and Steyerl to show how Gush's work is part of a critical tradition that has abandoned the subject as the privileged instance of political agency; turning the emphasis of the modern schema upside down, it focuses on the object as the force of emancipation. I would like to suggest that Gush used an object, Mandela's red Mercedes-Benz, to produce another image so that the story told is not necessarily that of a symbol of pacification, but one in which the factory was a battlefield. In this way I explore the emancipatory potencies of the object. What I propose is a reading of Red from the point of view of a return to the thing, where the latter becomes a political force.

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