Women at Work, 1999, video, 25 min.
(documentation of action)
The video film Women at Work is the story of a five-day artistic
action. The action was carried out during the renewal of the
National Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, as
a part of a series of projects called Under Construction,
which has used the scaffolding around the exhibition space.
It was performed by five refugee women. For five days, each
one wove her own pattern on a net that covered or was stretched
over the scaffolding. The camera follows them during the day
and at night when they work under the lamplight. The women
took over the gallery and combined the recent history of Bosnia
and Herzegovina with the history held in the gallery itself.
With their work they also established a link between the man's
work on the scaffolding and typical women's handicraft. The
handicraft symbolises the revival of the home and the conquering
of new space in a typical female manner. Maja Bajevia observed
that this was something that many women refugees did when
they arrived in a completely new environment. An interesting
moment in the story occurs when a female observer asks the
camera operator what will happen with the handiwork once the
action is completed. She is not completely satisfied by the
answer that it will probably be cut out of the net, because
she believes that these works should be exhibited in a gallery
context, as they are handcrafted documents of a certain time,
made in a new context. The observer is stopped dead in her
tracks only when she is told that these are handcrafted works
precisely because they are an integral part of the action
and not in their own right.