Collective is delighted to present The Heavy of Your Body Parts and The Cool Air of the Air Condition, a new exhibition and film by Glasgow-based artist Ross Little.
The Heavy of Your Body Parts and The Cool Air of the Air Condition is a new film and installation which traces different forms of globalised labour from work undertaken on a cruise ship to ship breaking in India. On board a cruise, the contrasting experiences of employees working long shifts and ‘digital nomad’ passengers, combining luxury travel with online work, are represented in an impressionistic, dream-like style. In the breaking yards of Alang, India, raw footage documents the decommissioning of a cargo ship and the subsequent journey of the material and objects.
Though differing vastly in many respects, all workers in the film share one commonality as economic migrants within globalised industries. In the process of making the film, the operation of privilege became apparent in how workers could or could not represent themselves. The digital nomads, and Ross, were able to speak freely and self-represent, whereas the cruise ship employees were contractually obliged not to talk to passengers beyond their work capacities. To enter the ship breaking yards Ross had to pose as a nautical science student, due to a distrust of filmmakers in the industry. This relationship along with language differences shaped how the ship breakers could be represented.
Ross has used different techniques to document the physical work of shipbreaking and the digital nomad community – shifting between cinematic shots, rough moving images, ambient sound, glitching, spoken interviews and performed excerpts from Ursula Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven and Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea.
In the first half of the film moving image taken on the cruise is intercut with still images of historic and contemporary maps of the world, connecting the cruise ship to a long history of global movement and trade. The second part of the film documents the process of decommissioning a cargo ship and the selling of vast quantities of scrap material within the local economy. The shipbreaking industry in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh has arisen from the deindustrialisation of the global north, with shipping companies relocating to the global south to benefit from lax labour and environmental laws.
For this exhibition, Collective’s gallery space will reflect the calming aesthetics of new age therapy often found in the interior design of cruise ships. Soothing lighting and a mini aquarium in an anteroom will encourage visitors into a relaxed state, corresponding and contrasting with elements of the film.
Ross Little graduated from The Glasgow School of Art in 2011. Recent projects include an expanded cinema performance at Counterflows Festival 2016, and 1957 Chevy Apparition at Market Gallery, Glasgow for which he presented films made in Cuba with Florrie James.