Pipe Dreams of Labour

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Description: Down pipes are common external features on apartment buildings in Paris.  These pipes are most often painted beige to match the wall surfaces behind, however sometimes bright colours can be seen where the end of the pipe meets the ground surface.  Grey or silver ends of pipes with caps attached can also be seen extruding from walls surfaces around the city, used to funnel water in an emergency, such as a fire.  The Action Researcher/Performer purchased grey plastic pipes (normally used for plumbing) and silver air-conditioning vents and arranged these in various configurations next to the real pipe settings.  Pieces of heavily patterned and brightly coloured African print fabric were stuffed inside the different shaped pipes.  This fabric appeared to be bursting out of the pipes, being extruded from the internal machinations of the city.  Later, installations included grey boxes, some with holes cut out of them and others with wheels attached.  These scenes became increasingly 'fantastical' as living machine like environments unexpectedly arriving at, or protruding from ground and wall surfaces.  These fabric extrusions also referenced the low-paid and often ‘invisible’ African workers of the city.  Immigrants are the first to arrive and often last to leave workplaces, undertaking the less glamorous yet essential jobs that keep the city operating such as- cleaning, washing, construction, maintenance and road works.

© Astra Howard 2014