Geometry of Labor
Geometry of Labor, an installation by the artist Leslie Mutchler, explores complicated issues related to work and labor through the construction of simpliﬁed cardboard objects.
The labor of the artist is a surrogate experience used to explore and exaggerate the disparate, yet similar, way of life within a multi-class system. Drawing from her observations as an outsider in Buenos Aires, the artist investigates the production, distribution, and ﬁnal disposition of material goods. She simulates cottage industry in terms of making, presents multiple modes of commerce from high-end design shop to unlicensed street vendors, and ﬁnally upcycles the entire installation with the aid of the cartoneros, local collectors and resellers of cardboard.
Material wealth is commonly associated with the accumulation of objects. Geometry of Labor calls attention to the fact that these objects, however, live in a constant state of physical and economic ﬂux- as their relationship to the environment and their function or aesthetic value can become altered.
From beginning to end, the cardboard constructs hold value to the artist (the maker), the viewer, and thus the cartoneros. Geometry of Labor is a culmination of repetitive and tedious labor: several hundred woodblock prints, imprinted with a white pattern of isometric triangles on chipboard, were cut, scored, and formed into objects and low-relief wall decoration; sheets of corrugated cardboard are similarly transformed into functional and display furniture; and white rag paper becomes moulding to adorn the high ceiling of the gallery, calling attention to the architecture of the space.