Alex and Yuan Yuan making a circle

16.01.13 | making group – blog by Shi Jiaxin 石佳鑫 (student, SZU)

The workshop started yesterday. We are being led by Alex, Ivar and Xin. Based on the research done in advance of the workshop, we chose to work with M&L fashion clothes inc., in Baishizhou as our partner. We are supposed to learn from their process of making sweaters, as well as to dive into the history of the factory. What we learn we will express through films, conversations, images and so on. On 12 January we started talking to the workers here at the factory and have achieved a preliminary understanding of their situation.

On 13 January we started at 9:30am and each group presented what we had learned from the previous day in the factory. My group had been talking to Ms Wen, Ms Tang and Ms Zhu. Ms Wen is between 30 to 40 years old, and comes from Hunan province. Ms Wen’s daughter, aged 16, also works in this factory. Ms Tang is in her thirties and comes from the same city as Ms Wen. She has a son who is now a junior high school student .

We learned that all of these three women have worked for at least ten years, and that they have been moving from place to place. But even though they have been moving from factory to factory, they have always been doing the same task for many years. On top of this, most of the workers are separated from their families. Their husbands,wives and children live in different provinces in China. It’s hard for them to get together, and they miss each other so much. Although their work has separated them from their families, they have little choice, as it’s the only skill thay have to make a living to support their family.

We are interested in the people, the workers here, rather than the actual factory in itself. We really want to make a difference. Maybe if we use waste materials from their work, we could make a design for each of them which is full of their memories of home? Or maybe it could reflect the story of their family? In this way, maybe through their work, they can get closer to their family, through a warm reminder by expressing their love for their families.

There are 11 workers here, so we plan to make 11 textile designs. Every worker owns one. We’ll hang these textiles as columns/tubes from the ceiling. The exteriors of the tubes are all the same shape, but inside express their personalities. It would feel like when we came to the factory for the first time. All the workers on the assembly line look the same, but as we got to know them more, they are all totally different.

At 2pm, we started to make a model. We tried with different materials and shapes. At 4pm, we went to the Biennale venue at Shekou to see our space. Here we used chalk to draw circles on the ground to feel the size and test how these tubes would work in the space. Today, we made big progress on the concept and the work we will be doing with the factory. Tomorrow we need to discuss everything with the workers and involve them further in the design. We still have lots work to do!