In an account of Tian Yu, a 17-year-old worker who managed to survive a string of suicide attempts at Foxconn in 2010, she recalled morale-boosting language in her employee handbook, on posters and slogans around factory walls which strongly contrasted with the living and working conditions of many employees. Foxconn, a taiwanese-own electronics manufacturing company with manufacturing plants in mainland China, is the world’s largest supplier of electronic components for global companies including Apple, Dell, IBM, Nintendo, Nokia, Sony and Hewlett-Packard. Following the tragedies that exposed the crisis of China’s harsh production regime, non-existent minimum wage policies and migrant labour force, the world learnt that division of labour and deskilling of workers are still a major predicament in Asia.
The recent Rana Plaza garment-factory collapse in Bangladesh, where whole garments for brands like Benetton and Mango were being produced, has also revealed a huge division between western consumption and Asian labour exploitation. Ross Perlin describes this economic imbalance as the Pacific System where a series of dyads are deepening one of which is American innovation and power, reliant upon Asian acquiescence and manufacturing.
‘Midnight’ addresses the politics of global production, the often unseen economic interdependency and the conflict between ideal promises and strident reality, distant financial gain and the loss of disrespected lives.
Sorawit Songsataya is an artist living in Auckland. Recent exhibitions include ‘Cobalt Sun,’ Te Uru window space in Titirangi, Auckland; ‘Let The Cobbler Stick To His Last’ curated by Tim Gentles and Matthew Ward in Brooklyn, New York City; ‘Piti Montessori’ at Blue Oyster Art Project Space in Dunedin; ‘Campaign Furniture’ and ‘Everyday Backwash’ curated by Henry Davidson at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Michael Lett, Auckland.