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Ankhon Dekhi

My previous solo exhibition, MaskiniTaal, studied the link between human and machine energy. On a later journey to India, I became interested in human and machine noise – and how I could capture it through sound or images. I was in the perfect place. Unfortunately, the caste system still exists in India; the family you are born into and your occupational status determine your social position. Ramgarhia is the name of the craftsman caste to which my family belongs, and which is portrayed in Ankhon Dekhi. In the past, the ramgarhia were named "untouchables" – it is thought that upper castes should not be touched by lower castes, because they will become dirty. In my family home in Norway, we keep several carpets hand-woven by my grandmother. The textile industry in India is extremely varied, with hand-spun and hand-woven textiles sectors at one end of the spectrum, and capital-intensive sophisticated mills sector at the other end. I was eager to visit a larger production plant making towels and bed sheets, which supplies products to the likes of Ikea and Jysk. I later realised that my shared house in Oslo contained products from the same factory. I accessed the factory through a strict security gate, posing as part of another group. The building spanned over a kilometre long, making it the world’s longest of its kind. On such a scale, human bodies and machines seem to merge into a single energy and constant noise. In the book, Soundscape, by Murray Schafer, the author asks: "is the soundscape of the world a composition beyond our control, or whether we are the composers and performers responsible to give it shape and friction?” When I moved through the factory – with its unstoppable noise – I tried to capture the conditions of production behind the textiles we use everyday. 

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