Women in Construction: A Cross Cultural Dialog speculates the multicultural notion of female identity facilitated through a cross cultural dialog using images of construction workers in Pune, Maharashtra, India, and New York City, America. The main content of this project explores the boundaries that circumvent the female gender in her responsibilities to her family, as well as her interest in advancing her career and be considered an equal with men; as seen through the lens of the perceptive device and its product. The camera and the image.
In this project I have taken images of women construction workers in both situations, and shown them to each other. In the event of viewing the images, the participants had many reactions to their contemporaries who experience vastly disparate realities. On the occasion of recording these reactions, they asked each other many questions about their lives, and in due time the correspondence was complete with some questions answered. With this information I have constructed a ‘conversation’ between these two types of women to elucidate how the nuances of ones society dictates ones role through imagery.
A Multi Layered Composition
My intention here is to explore the multifaceted complexities of the boundaries of the image, which create societal expectations when understanding others and ourselves. By using the line that divides two contrary ideologies those of the East and West through images, I have attempted to truly explore the dualities of an aspect of society. As an artist, I am investigating the confines that deem certain labels so, especially the representation of the women, the exotic and the blue collar. The construction field is laden with issues of labor, growth, globalisation and also exaggerates the male female dynamic in two opposite cultures. Therefore this work address feminist issues as well.
What IS the Conversation?
The American women cannot imagine a notion of safety outside of what they know, and on seeing the Indian women wearing sari’s on the worksite, it is misunderstood as a highly unsafe work attire. As for the Indian women they cannot imagine disturbing the order of their patriarchal culture . The sari here is seen by some as a trapping of Indian society, quite similar to how the burkha has been perceived by some in the West. Even though the Indian women cannot be carpenters or painters, they are welcome on the site. Unlike the American women, who have fought for their equal rights, but are still struggling to get accepted. Yet, oddly enough the American women look at the Indian women as much stronger individuals than they are. These anomalies are prevalent throughout the work, this is how cross cultural dialog can uproot preconceived notions of society.
The Medium and Its Message
With the use of imagery, interviews, the manner of editing the film, layering content and mixing and matching color, black and white, video and stills I am creating a potpourri of various mediums to exentuate cross cultural dialog within the material itself. This contributes to the message of observing the clash of different point of views.
The Act of Encoding
In the video, I have used many allegorical symbols, such as the manner or dress, safety equipment, and even the word construction in the title of my project to play with syntax within the visual and textual field. At the same time, I am attempting to draw a parallel between how preordained expectations prevent us from truly contesting deeply, the encoded meanings of the image of the female in mass media across cultures. The construction workers have been shot in a beautiful elevated aesthetic manner, just like I would shoot an important celebrity for an editorial magazine. I am trying to purposely challenge the way, those without power are normally photographed.
Issues of Representation
This is a cross-cultural dialog between the photographer/artist and the subject as well. Matters of authorship are complicated when these ‘conversations’ are simulated on the screen by an artitst. I consider myself a mere facilitator this cross cultural dialog, therefore this body of work has made me contemplate my role constantly. As a result the many renditions of the ‘video conversation’ is my relentless urge to resolve the idiosyncrasy of ‘accurate’ and ‘just’ narrative of multicultural identity. Therefore I am using the image as a mirror to contemplate our own complex reality, and the practice of art to facilitate the discourse of the other in relation to the self. Dialog being an important aspect of this project.
In conclusion, I hope that from this video, many questions are inspired, and many ambiguities are deepened about the human race.