The project titled Handiwork is the result of collaboration between visual artist Karina Marusińska and radio journalist Beata Kwiatkowska.
The project consists of two components: a visual and an audible one. Visitors can rent a set imitating a protection kit usually worn by factory workers: gloves and headphones. However, the elements of Handiwork fulfill the reverse functions: instead of protection, the gloves cause discomfort, instead of cancelling noise, the headphones are the source of sound – they transmit interviews with employees of the Lathing Machines Factory, in which the artists ask them about the importance of manual labour in the production of lathing machines and their work in the factory from the perspective of their own hands. Renting the set and surrendering to the senses of touch, hearing and seeing stimulates reflection on the title. Handiwork relates to valued manual labour, handicraft and taking matters into one’s own hands.
In the factory, handiwork has tremendous value: every pair of hands, every employee is essential for the final result. The paradox is that the same work that provides dignified life for the employees may destroy their health. Here emerges a second, negative interpretation of the title. Hands are the main tool of work – even when running the machines, they act as living extensions of the inanimate automata. Hands are covered with wounds, scars, they degenerate. They can be very sensitive and delicate, serve to commune with a higher power, foretell the future, sometimes are wrung and sometimes “you do not know where to put them”.
photo: Małgorzata Kujda