10.000 THINGS OUT OF CHINA
10.000 things out of China -- a Taoist way of saying: “everything that exists is produced”— follows the flow of select household commodities between the logistical choke points these objects pass before and after we own them. The work, which began in 2016 as a relatively simple ‘one-line-trajectory’, turned into a cacophony of polyrhythmic flows between forced mobility environmental shifts, material commodities, and libidinal signposts.
Frequently, following one commodity, I’d encounter something like this: an Instagram post of a model with a phone displayed as advertisement inside a Foxconn factory where this same phone was being made. The route by which this image travels (fibre-optic cables on the ocean floor), the phone from which it has been photographed, and the phone it advertises pass through the exact same locations, crossing each other at their respective automated rhythms. The consumer, who is always already simultaneously a producer in this configuration, is one of the logistical knots, a micro-port, always already mobile and never a final destination. Commercial objects quite literally happen to us for a while before they continue their choreographed journey.
10.000 Things Out Of China has circumnavigated the globe by sea. After weeks inside a container ship, away from the overstimulation, a certain pace acquires a shape. The engine of a containership may move at 100 revolutions per minute, the speed of a human heart on amphetamines, but the hammock above the deck follows the bio-rhythm of the ocean waves. After polishing the surface of the ship all day, the sailors still spend hours slow-burning boredom in their cabins. They are still at work—a ship is, after all, an an institution—but not quite as fast as we are when scrolling Twitter. Without glorifying the near slave-like working conditions, I would say that these vanishing spaces where labour still retains its physical forms and is divided from other kinds of labour we do during our ‘free time’ can teach all of us something about the possibility of boredom, perhaps the only respite we can hope for in a sleepless era of accelerationism.
The work stretched from Istanbul to Shanghai, Los-Angeles, Pussan, Hong-Kong, Athens, Colombo, Nairobi, Dubai, Singapore, and Kampala, It included a visual survey of hard-to-enter sites like Foxconn iPhone manufacturing plants, the Penguin Books Printing Factory, Zara and Victoria factories (many of which are themselves constantly relocating), Jebel Ali Free Port, CCCC and Cosco construction sites, and Harbour Engineering facilities amongst others.