Thread, canvas, video: 05:30

Inv. št. I 13

At a time when industrialisation is moving drastically from the Western world to the East, especially to the Asian continent, thread – introduced as an autonomous material in the field of visual arts only in recent decades – is precisely the material whose traditional essence, as wellas its close connection with the textile industry, can ideally reflect the social and economic phenomenon of the relocation of labour to the East.

In this work entitled Toilets/Made in India, the artists selected the material and also the production process to put this phenomenon on a pedestal. The duo assumed the role of business managers of an enterprise hiring the services of the cheap Indian labour force. Textile workers made gobelins according to the artists’ idea, and they were paid the previously negotiated wage; according to the rules of capitalistic logic, the artists thus became fully legitimate creators of this work. From another standpoint, this work deals with the phenomenon elaborated by the Slovene philosopher Slavoj Žižek in his writings, which the pair of artists came upon while travelling to India. The artists wrote: “On such trips, a water closet, or a continental breakfast – a standard of civilisation in the 20th century – is a special luxury. The water closet has become an irreplaceable icon not only from the hygienic point of view, but also from the national one. Žižek wrote of various types of water closets and pointed to the German, French and Anglo-Saxon varieties as examples, in which national characters are reflected in types of water closets and the modes by which water sweeps away the waste. As we flew by the airplane from Europe eastward, the types of water closets changed according to the national character of airports; before reaching India, we got well acquainted with all types from Žižek’s description; even more, in India we came upon an Indian ‘squat toilet’ and a Euro-Indian lavatory.” If we would look for the common denominator of the material and contextual layers of the work Toilets/Made in India, we could find it precisely in the fact that the artists have reflected upon the experienced travel and events, and translated them into a humorous, socially critical artistic statement.

Besedilo: Maja Škerbot

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