FACT, Liverpool
12th July – 6th October 2019

Reviewed by Samera Thalen
(Image: SWEAT by C. BREITZ, 2018)

The current exhibition at FACT, which opened to the public on Friday, is called REAL WORK. Two different works by different artists that work closely with communities. On the ground floor is the work of Liz Magic Laser. She worked as a coach using an online platform to communicate with people from different continents to help them to discover who they really are and how they could improve their lives by implementing techniques that are not capitalist in nature.

Thus, no Fitbit, but taking breaks and walks and sleep when you need to! Actually listening to your body instead of regulating it from the outside with devices that are advertised to help you and do you good, but there is a risk here. That it is a form of capitalist manipulation and deceit. Devices that make the user more productive in a capitalist society and thus can go that extra hour… That eventually is not good for your wellbeing.

Liz Magic Laser’s project is about self-care, and we are not talking about a face mask or gadgets that do that for you, but how to reconnect with your inner self. She asked the participants how they could come closer to their real goals and dreams they have, to become who they are in their core. The work is shown to the public as a video installation, where you see the different people doing their ‘unconventional’ jobs. Online jobs, with no steady income.

I went to see the exhibition last Saturday and was lucky because it was followed up by a drawing and meditation session, to give the audience a deeper way of understanding the connections between resilience and creativity and how the techniques of drawing and meditation can help to improve your life.

On the first floor the artist Candice Breitz’s work SWEAT is about sex workers in South Africa, and how their work is seen as a crime. That means that in their reality they have no protection whatsoever, no one is protecting a ‘criminal’ from real -life threatening- harm. They are killed and raped and they are not protected. We all have ideas about sex workers, but to hear the stories from the people themselves and not our thoughts about it… was heart-breaking and empowering! This work was also a video installation, ten screens and ten different stories. The installation was very surreal because you could only see the mouths of the persons talking, and they were all talking at the same time… so from a distance it was very loud chatter that I could not make sense of and I had to zoom in very closely to actually listen to their individual stories and THEIR experiences. Also the fact that something came out of their mouths instead of something going into their bodies was a powerful statement, at some point when looking closely at the mouths they looked like a vagina, and then looking closer they became personal. They had little scars, or different coloured lipstick, I started to see their individuality.

It became visible that they were not all women, but they were in this together. The exhibition hit me in the face, and hard. It was not ‘pretty’ it was REAL and it made me cry. It was sublime! It made me ashamed to be born in the Netherlands. These people; women, men, transgender or whatever… came to South- Africa in search for a better life.

Zoe Black, who is one of the ‘voices’ in the exhibition, explained that she thought that ‘the white men would pay better,’ and that she was ambivalent in her position towards the ‘white patriarchal male,’ because they were the ones that colonized and brought all the problems to her in the first place.

She also explicitly stated that Western feminists can’t speak for her because her struggles are of a different level. She states powerfully that she can be a feminist and a sex-worker, when she says: ‘My Body My Rules, Deal With It!

All ten individuals are activists affiliated with SWEAT, what is an abbreviation of: the Sex Workers Education & Advocacy Taskforce, which fights for human rights for sex-workers, see link below.

The exhibition SWEAT is not for the fainthearted and it is on until the 6th of October. Fact gives you the opportunity to listen to the voices of Zoe Black, Connie, Duduzile Dlamini, Emmah, Gabbi, Regina High, Jenny, Jowi, Tenderlove and Nosipho ‘Provocative’ Vidima online too.

The videos are accessible from FACT’s website or on Vimeo, see link below. So have a look from behind your computer, or just go to FACT if you live in Liverpool. Please LISTEN now these people have a voice to be heard, and thank you FACT for making this happen.

See for further information:

You can access the stories of the ten participants of SWEAT on Vimeo, I selected four:

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