Capitalism: Child Labor

Artist: Ken Jacobs
video | video | 14:00 | 2006

In acclaimed experimental filmmaker Ken Jacobs’ film Capitalism: Child Labor, the artist appropriates an old stereoscopic image of a Victorian thread factory, digitally animating it and then focusing on the humans hidden amongst the mechanical. Picking out the faces of the boys and men operating the huge machines, the images stutter onwards in a loop, trapped by the confines of the source photograph: a steady march that makes no progress. In this way, the awkward, uncomfortable flickering of the film stands for the nature of capitalism itself. Jacobs writes: “A stereograph celebrating factory production of thread. Many bobbins of thread coil in a great sky-lit factory space, the many machines manned by a handful of people. Manned? Some are children. I activated the double-photograph, composer Rick Reed suggested the mechanical din. Your heart bleeds for the kids? The children will surely be rescued by their bosses! ‘Boys,’ they will say, ‘Have we got a war for you…’”


The 10th Shanghai Biennale - Social Factory | 2014.11.23 - 2015.03.31 | Shanghai Contemporary Art Museum(Shanghai, China)