Untitled (On Effort) 

2006

 

 

 

Liquid obtained from the environmental humidity in seven different work areas

7 pieces, 3.94 × 4.72 × 2.76 inches each

 

 

This proposal presents the physical aspects of labor by accumulating the humidity emitted by the human body. Through this act of collection, the piece calls for us to reflect on human beings’ extinction as a performing, executing entity. This sample of moisture may seem like an abstract representation, but its representative nature is based on equivalences that seek to initiate the comprehension of a whole (a human being) through its parts (bodily moisture). Furthermore, the piece nostalgically seeks to evoke the transience of human life and the end of man’s physical participation in contemporary societal development, when human sweat is one of our country’s primary exports. 

One of the most important points in the critique of nineteenth centurycapitalism arose in questioning the abstraction of production based on its material nature. Karl Marx analyzed this matter in 1857 with his text General Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy, which discarded any abstraction permitting the isola- tion of production, distribution, and consumption in a teleological universe. The element that allowed Marx to undertake this material critique of capitalism revealing historical, objective, and subjective forms of productionwas labor. A commodity (according to Marx in Das Kapital), as an object outside us, is full of metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties. It contains labor, effort, and expense. An object, as a commodity, ceases to exist as proof of production  as it is always historical and entails a particular configuration of social distributions and then becomes a phantasmagoria. In other words, sheer illusion, in which the appear- ance of the “natural,” or the given, conceals socioeconomic structures.

 

More than 150 years later, commodities continue to function mystically, hiding the means of their own production. This is where a piece by Sinaloaborn artist Fritzia Irizar comes in. Untitled (On Effort) portrays “effort” as the expense incurred by the laboring body. Irizar evokes labor, exposing it without any representation that could integrate it into a particular ideology or propaganda. The artist’s operation is to transform that effort into humidity, condense the body’s exertion, and capture it so as to turn it into liquid and thus render the gesture a material thing: such effort will always involve a loss that becomes a physical part of production. Here, the body emerges in order to understand how effort accumulates toward dismantling any illusion of production without wear-and-tear, without strength, without workers. If latecapitalism commodities keep trying to perform this trick, then art, too, will keep working to reveal it. 

On Effort

Helena Chávez