Opus et domus
MAJA SMREKAR (SL)
In the mythologies all around the world, association with the work of spinning and weaving connects the conception of fate, destiny and the interpretation of the ancient great Mother. Nordic goddess Frigg, also known as the goddess of fertility, household, motherhood, love, marriage, domestic arts and animals is usually depicted with a spinning wheel and a spindle, whereas in Slavic mythology, the three women appear to be spinners of fate at the cradle of every newborn child. In many ancient cultures the circulation ritual connected with spinning meant a symbolic demonstration of conquering the territory. That is why many traditional beliefs, especially manifested in late medieval fairy tales articulate the spinning wheel female labour in the connection with the surveillance and punishment of rural women in the context of the upcoming textile economy market, which will become a concept for the new practical ideology in modern times.
The representation of spinning thus symbolizes the subversive resistance to the colonial economic and political system, which has already been established by Mahatma Gandhi through the symbolism of appearing with the spinning wheel as a political gesture for the independence of the local Indian economy. In terms of manual labour, spinning in the Opus et domus keeps the opposition stand against the post-industrial, service activity driven perspective in society. The hands-on experience of spinning — a physicality of engaging the whole body, reflects especially on the female body which is always expected to serve as a means of labour. This need exists at the very core of the increasingly rising populism that governs through precariousness, more so by emphasizing the importance of nation, and by that – birth rate as its highest value. Therefore, the female body is always a working one, perceived as the property of the state, law, church, society, ideology. In these terms the relationship between culture and labour seems to be about the political and ideological shaping of values, while its distribution of power is at the same time marked by fear of a (different) future.
Opus et domus addresses intimacy of home as a political stand in relation to the capitalist structure of work, in which productivity is rising with an increasingly smaller workforce, thus achieving an end of the middle class. Due to structural technological changes, the catalysts of economic growth, jobs and homes proportionally disappear, while the large percentage of the wealth created by this new economy is disproportionately distributed. In the performance Smrekar will be spinning a mixture of her two dog companion Byron's and Ada's gathered hair and her own (members of Hybrid Family), into a thread as the in situ manifestation of Franz de Waal’s observation that ‘the roots of politics are older than humanity’.
Slovenian born performance artist Maja Smrekar lives and works between Ljubljana and Berlin. In 2017 she won the Prix Ars Electronica Hybrid Art award, The Golden Nica.
Photo credit: Anze Sekelj and Gia Gruden