Ali Kazma

Obstructions / Jean Factory


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Not on display

Ali Kazma born 1971
Video, projection, colour and sound (stereo)
Duration: 12min
Purchased with funds provided by the Middle East and North Africa Acquisitions Committee 2014


Obstructions / Jean Factory 2008 is a single channel colour video with sound, lasting twelve minutes and presented as a large-scale projection in a dark room. The video was created in 2008 and is part of Turkish-born artist Ali Kazma’s Obstructions series, which comprises fifteen videos made between 2005 and 2012. The series explores human activities in relation to labour and the conditions of work. In 2010 the series was awarded the Nam June Paik Award by the North Rhine-Westphalia Art Foundation in the field of media art. Two other videos from the series are also in Tate’s collection: Taxidermist 2009 (Tate T14124) and Automobile Factory 2012 (Tate T14125).

Jean Factory documents the manufacturing of blue jeans inside the Turkish Mavi-Erak factory in Istanbul. Focusing on the monumental flow of mass production and the vast assembly line of the factory, the video offers a view of the unseen processes that play an integral part in contemporary global consumer society. The video is structured as a visual diary of the people at work on the factory’s production line. It captures the intense activity and productivity of the setting as it churns out one of the fashion industry’s most successful products. Documenting the rapid industrial processes of cutting, sewing, distressing and ironing, as well as the continuous flow of material that ultimately become the final product, the video records the synchronicity of movement and extensive series of actions performed to construct a dynamic mapping of intense physical labour.

The continuous engagement of workers in the vast arena of the factory presents a view of manufacturing and labour processes – many of which are gender specific and geographically localised – hence acting as a microcosm of society. Intricately involved in a wider process of networked globalised practices, the production and distribution of popular culture in the form of wearable products is experienced through the banal everyday experience of the labourers at work.

The video explores the excess of movement and continual noise created by the interaction between humans and machines as they move at astonishing speeds. Threads of fabric are looped mid-air, choreographed to land in the experienced hands of the workers, whose mechanical actions anticipate and amplify the capacities of each machine. This co-existence of machines and human labour is enacted in a vast and inhospitable space. However, the artist punctuates this at intervals with long shots that reveal more intimate moments in these processes.

Along with other films from the Obstructions series, Jean Factory can be seen as a complex study of the often elaborate and demanding physical acts required to carry out the processes of production, from the grand scale of an automobile production line to the relentless speed of clothing manufacture to the quiet precision of the taxidermist’s craft. Describing the works, Kazma has explained that: ‘The different combinations and juxtapositions of videos reveal their own dynamics. Since each video has a different length, you never see the same combination of images, just as you never hear the same sound track twice over. And of course, with more videos the complexity grows exponentially.’ (Quoted in Gourmelon 2010, accessed 18 July 2013.)

Obstructions / Jean Factory exists in an edition of five plus two artist’s proofs; Tate’s copy is one of the artist’s proofs aside from the main edition.

Further reading
Ali Kazma interviewed by Mo Gourmelon, Ali Kazma: Temporality, A Pivotal Position of the Work, 2010, Francesca Minini Gallery, Milan website,, accessed 18 July 2013.
Ali Kazma, Işler/Travaux/Works, 2005–2010, Galeri Nev, exhibition catalogue, Istanbul and Galerie Analix Forever, Geneva 2011.
In It, Ali Kazma – Paul Ardenne, exhibition catalogue, C24 Gallery, New York 2012.

Vassilis Oikonomopoulos
July 2013

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