Anonymous Steel Worker | 2007
Enamel screen print on stainless steel, 96 inches x 58.5 inches
Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh (2007-08)
Every factory has a time book. The time book is an index of the value of a worker’s time. It records hours, minutes and money, and acts as the memory machine of a factory. But time also leaks out of the factory. It gets reclaimed for purposes other than those dictated by the inventory. The accounts of these nameless moments ‘occupied’ by anonymous workers never enter the factory’s time book.
In Pittsburgh, which was once the world centre of steel production, there is an archive of labour in the steel industry called ‘Rivers of Steel’. In that archive, along with Time Books, union leaflets, photographs and newspaper clippings are a few eccentric objects. One such object is a quirky ‘dog’ made of machine parts, odds and ends, made between shifts in a steel factory by an unknown worker. This ‘dog’, the pet and companion of reclaimed time, is emblazoned in brilliant orange on a stainless steel sheet, as a heraldic tribute to an the hours that an anonymous steel worker rescued from the pages of the time book.