Elizabeth Fuller MFA Visual Studies Thesis 2016
While 1970’s feminist philosophers have provided a crucial framework for understanding gendered inequities within the division of housework, there is little contemporary conversation surrounding the fact that women remain chiefly responsible for everyday domestic work. This essay will explore ways in which inequity in the private sphere directly relates to the way women are treated within the public sphere of labor, specifically in the garment and textile sweatshop industry. From the home to the workplace, repeated, mundane, and unfulfilling labor have been relegated to women for far too long. This project and durational performance address the futile acts of labor that are reserved for women within the private domestic setting as well as the public sphere of employment.
The thesis performance joins pedestrian choreography and gestures associated with domestic labor with raw denim: a durable fabric used primarily as a uniform of the working class. Denim is a material that shows evidence of labor over time through fading and wear of indigo dye. By decontextualizing connotations of labor between the private and public sphere, this paper attempts to provide a clearer link between the gendered inequities of housework and the public realm of employment. The invisible systems of labor which support and allow certain persons unfettered freedoms of creativity are made visible, and the viewer is meant to question their personal independence, a woman’s role in and outside of the home, and the actual time spent on domestic labor.