Foreign Bodies (1991)

"Who was to build the new buildings and motorways, make the castings, man the assembly lines, quarry the minerals, load the goods, bury the pipelines ?"

Based on a tape/slide piece for a show in Germany's Ruhr district, this work looks at the situation of Turkish migrant workers in Germany, the hughest concentrations of which are in the Ruhr. It deals with their condition from the point of view of the vulnerability, anonymity and disposability of their labour power. Migrants exist in an economy that is absolutely dependant on them (they do the dirty work that no-one else will do), yet at the same time refuses to acknowledge them through various forms of institutional discrimination.

"Migrants can be 'imported' when needed, and exported (sent home) when made temporarily redundant, and there need be no political repercussions for the migrants have no political rights and little political influence" (2)

"Whenever industrial cities have needed to enlarge a section of the proletariat, peasants from the countryside have been drawn into the cities and transformed there into urban workers"(3)

"Migrant workers were needed to create the pre-conditions for a new shift in the labour process which in turn is eliminating them" (4)

The position of the migrant worker in Germany is even more precarious now with competition from the East and the rise of neo-nazism in the wake of unification.

(1) John Berger/Jean Mohr, 'A Seventh Man', Cambridge, Granta Books, 1989, p.123

(2) Ibid, p.138

(3) Ibid, p.107

(4) Stephen Castles/Heather Booth/Tina Wallace, 'Here For Good: Western Europe's New Ethnic Minorities', London, Pluto Press, 1984, p.157

6 xerox photomontages on board 46" X 32" approx.

No comments: