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Factory Complex

Documentary Film
South Korea
95 minutes

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Min-kyung Kim
Heung-soon Im
Tae-won Lee
Sun-young Lee, Heung-soon Im, Gil-ja Kim, Yun-jeong Jee
Hak-min Lee
Min-kyung Kim
New hypes regularly make teenagers all over the world queue up for new sneakers. They have no idea that the women who make them can’t afford them. “I want to wear Nike shoes, too”, was the slogan when they started their struggle in the 1980s. The video artist Im Heung-soon, whose mother worked in a textile factory, makes them visible: an army of worker ants who built the foundations of South Korea’s meteoric rise to economic power and who paid for this with their health and often their lives. Im Heung-soon draws a connection to today’s globalised consumer worlds where it’s the women again who keep things going in textile factories, the electronics industry, super markets, call centres or the service industry, who earn a pittance and always wear a friendly smile. He interweaves this ruthless and sober chronicle of exploitation, told in interviews, with surrealist experimental performances which individualise the pain of those who are usually seen as a mass or as human capital first and foremost.

Im Heung-soon won the Silver Lion at the Venice Biennial for his moving work which oscillates between art and documentation. It would be even better to spare a thought for the women from “Factory Complex” before the next mobile phone is purchased. And to question the purchase in the first place.

Grit Lemke