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Lulu Shur-tzy Hou

Labours and Labels, Taiwan, 1997

Black & white photograph and collage

The seamstress bent over her sewing machine in a textile factory in the Taipeh Basin is set as an icon at the center.

The lines of text accompanying the picture constitute a list of the countries where most of the Far Eastern textile industry is located.

The work of Lulu Shur-Tzy Hou is the living testimony of a woman, one of many who stand behind the trade marks, behind the products on sale in the world's capitals at exorbitant prices, while the wages they earn are skimpy and demeaning.

 "After a six year stay in the United States, says the artist, I returned to Taiwan in 1996. The dialectical relationship between theory and artistic practice became more intensive the moment I reached the city of Hsin-Chuang. In trying to establish contact with working women, I could see the image of working women behind the Taiwanese economic miracle. I tried to present the conflict and cooperation between human muscle and the machine, to include the voices of lower class working women. They worked day and night, at the factory and in the family, their sweat and tears became part of the colorful products. They had to accept their fate, entailing unemployment or finding new jobs due to the rapid changes in the international textile market. During my preoccupation with the working women, I tried to imagine a different kind of existential worth. When these things ran through my mind, I tried to identify my own existence.