Critical Writing Index

The (im)mobilities of assembly-line work

by Paula Brailovsky

Moving Image Review & Art Journal (MIRAJ), 2015, v. 4, no. 1&2, pp. 32-45

This article discusses Swiss artist Ursula Biemann’s video-essay Performing the Border (1999), a work that critically examines the feminization of low-skilled factory labour in the city of Ciudad Juárez in northern Mexico. Home to large assembly lines, known as maquiladoras, Juárez is often the place where large corporations send their electronic equipment and machinery to be produced and assembled. Whilst these technologies help speed up the processes of contemporary capitalism, the city’s infrastructure is so poor that it consumes most of the factory workers’ free time. These women have to spend long hours commuting to work and often live in homes with no electricity or running water. Locating Biemann’s work within other representations of factory labour, this article examines the aesthetic and critical strategies that she employs to highlight the economic and social imbalances created by the forces of neo-liberalism as they impact the lives of maquiladora workers.

ITEM 2015.016 – available for viewing in the Research Centre

Videos, Artworks and Artists Cited

Performing the BorderUrsula Biemann

Dolores from 1 to 10Coco Fusco

The Tijuana ProjectionKrzysztof Wodiczko

Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory in LyonLumière Brothers

Workers Leaving the FactoryHarun Farocki

The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat StationLumière Brothers

Remote SensingUrsula Biemann

Workers Leaving the Factory (Dubai)Ben Russell

ExitSharon Lockhart

Technology/Transformation: Wonder WomanDara Birnbaum