Dead labour

There is perhaps nothing that brings Marx’s concept of ‘dead labour’ more vividly to life for me than the sight of a brick wall. The repetitious work of laying brick upon brick is so nakedly visible. And the way that existing walls become the basis for new constructions with new uses (as well as, often, standing derelict once their original value has been realised) is a very tangible emblem of the way that capitalism evolves, with the products of past labour incorporated into new processes – new value milked from the old, waste piled on waste.

another extraordinary thing about brick walls is the variety of visual readings they are open to – ranging from high art to eyesore – depending on the context and the original use.

Click on any image on this site to see it in detail.

a disused factory in Latvia

a disused factory in Latvia

I think this was in Southern Sweden

I think this was in Southern Sweden

the wall of a Thai Wat

a Thai Wat

not sure where this hodge-podge was - I think italy

not sure where this hodge-podge was – I think Italy

a revered public building (church?) in Cortona, Italy

a revered public building (church?) in Cortona, Italy

I built this garden wall myself, recycling bricks from a knocked-down wall in the house, some still clumped together with their original mortar

I built this garden wall myself, recycling bricks from a knocked-down wall in the house, some still clumped together with their original mortar

I found the sheer scale of this factory chimney in Finland awe-inspiring

I found the sheer scale of this factory chimney in Finland awe-inspiring

a slate wall in North Wales

a slate wall in North Wales, each cut a risky labour

these machines must have been made with precision  by highly-trained craftsmen

these machines must have been made with precision by highly-trained craftsmen – but look at them now.

In Brazil, these intricately patterned mosaic pavements extend for miles and miles. Think of the careful labour involved!

In Brazil, intricately assembled mosaic pavements like this extend for miles and miles. Think of the careful labour involved!

another wall - this time in Zagreb

another patched wall – this time in Zagreb

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