Tanja Beer


The women you see in the first part of the footage are working for people who do have a lot of money. Carpets are expensive. But they will never realize the actual value of their hard work. They cut their hands and the physical exhaustion does not make it any easier. With their small movements, they are feeding a machine and the monotony does not leave much room for personal development. The one woman sitting on the left side turning the wheel appears to be in a higher position as the others. She is talking and spinning the wheel that actually keeps the machine running. The woman on the right is dressed in white and seems to be controlling what the others are doing. Her ability to read and write makes her looks more sophisticated and spares her off the manual work. The others all look the same; they are defined only through their work. They look empty and their faces are blank with no emotion. They cannot get out of the circle of the spinning wheel.

The machine draws the energy off their body. Through the string, they are connected to it and are forced to keep up the rhythm of the machine. The footage has been taken several decades ago as it is in black and white and looks old and broken. Women at that time could not speak up and have their own life. They were supposed to be in the background and make society spin. Even though they were giving away all of their energy. They educated and took care of their children, kept up with the household, and basically had to deal with all the life’s burdens and duties. Those women in the footage are working in a carpet factory. It would have been impossible to work twelve or more hours weaving carpets and maintain a family. Instead of living a family life, they are working for a machine. It can also be a substitute for a higher class, because the woman working there will never be able to buy one of their carpets.

In “The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids.” Melville describes women working in a paper mill as blank sheets of paper. Locke’s theory that the human mind is a blank sheet at birth, on which experiences write, is mimicked by the women working for the carpet machine. Instead of constructing their own identity they continue being objects, who are supposed to keep on working day in day out. It turns them into robotic-like zombies, for they do not experience any more than the machine. Keeping them as an essential part of the system, which is brought alive only by their souls, the authority of the factory owners makes it impossible for the women to doubt what they are doing and that they see the authoritive opinion as the truth. Maybe they have experienced various things in their life, but have never had the chance to reflect and act on it.

The men instead are working physically as well, but it seems as if they are controlling the machine. The man on the left side makes the wheel spin but then steps back. It spins without him. The women cannot step back, as they are the ones who make it spin.