THE SCALE II
Flint Institute of Arts, Michigan, USA
Fleckenstien Video Gallery
Kawita Vatanajyankur’s art offers a powerful examination of the psychological, social, and cultural ways of viewing and valuing the continuing challenges of women’s everyday labor. In her videos, the artist undertakes physical experiments that playfully, often painfully, test her body’s limits—a challenge that is both unavoidably compelling and perplexing to watch.
The repetitive and arduous tasks that Vatanajyankur performs parody a pervasive slippage between human and machine, and spotlight the forgotten body within a technologically accelerating world. Beyond this literal translation, these gestures also make visible the invisible mechanisms that govern women’s everyday labor in her birthplace of Thailand. It is a place where, for many, daily chores aren’t always assisted by machines but are time-consuming, physically exhausting, and often the task of women.
It is telling that she describes her performances as “meditation postures,” when such grueling tests of resilience are the opposite of what might be considered Zen. But, for Vatanajyankur, extreme physical endurance offers a way to free herself from her mind: a mechanism to lose her sense of being. This deliberate objectification, she says, turns her body into sculpture. The Scale 2 and Squeezers explores the limitations of our bodies, the continuing challenges of mundane labor, and the ongoing tasks for feminism in a globalized and digitally networked world.