Saturday, December 18, 2010

Factory Girls

Reading Factory Girls: Voices from the Heart of Modern China by Leslie Chang about migrant workers in Guangdong province, near the border with Hong Kong. She tells the story of two girls who work at the Taiwanese-owned Yue Yuen factory which makes training shoes for Nike, Adidas, Reebok etc. It employs 70,000 people, mainly young women, has dormitories, a school, hospital, cinema, performance troupe, fire department and its own power plant. There are many more factories like it. One-third of the world's shoes are made in Guangdong. Average pay is around 70 quid a month.

See also Edward Burtynsky film Manufactured Landscapes which 'documents' another mega-factory (making electrical components) which puts Yue Yuen in the shade. I seem to remember the opening shot being one incredibly long take of a camera gliding along a track from one end of the factory to the other, a distance of seemingly 2kms, but I could be wrong. It was 'beautiful' in the way that Charles Sheeler's paintings and photographs of factories in 30s USA were 'poetic'. All of which seems a million miles from this beach in the middle of nowhere.

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