When Labour Becomes Form
hand made crochet, 130x160 cm
Throughout history and in many tribal cultures still today, a woman in the last phase of her life attains freedom and power, she becomes a respected member or a leader of community. This is not only due to the accumulation of wisdom during her long life. A major component to her forcefulness is the dramatic realignment of the levels of her estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, caused by menopause. A hormonal recalibration with a relatively heightened production of testosterone dramatically changes a woman's psyche. It brings out clearheaded assertiveness, sagacity and a resolve to re-enter and take a position in the man's world.
Our patriarchal society does not welcome such shifts in attitude. The empire fears Baba Yaga. It silences her through ridicule, puts her into a strait jacket of ugliness; a wise old woman, a counselor and a judge, is sentenced to worthlessness. For a woman, ageing is a physical pre-requisite to disqualification - neoliberal market is not interested in wisdom that comes with age. Such knowledge becomes a valueless asset, an unmarketable skill, a pathological growth that repels and provokes pity. It is dismissed in favor of firm skin, ceaseless girlhood and eternal internship in the offices of the male boss. When Labour Becomes Form involves specifically this vulnerable group. After publishing an ad in a Slovak newspaper, we found an elderly unemployed woman and offered her our fee we got for participating in an exhibition titled "Equal Opportunities" in exchange for crocheting a large image. The pattern we designed for this needlework is based on a graph taken from the publication Women, Men and Age in Labor Market Statistics (published by Institute for Public Affairs, Slovakia, 2007). The chart depicts the asymmetry in opportunities for employment of men and women based on age and illustrates the weak position of women over 45 years in relation to the neoliberal labour market. This work interlaces abstraction with labour, statistics with beauty, ageing with resistance, human life with exobytes of data twirling in grand patterns of numeric bliss.