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.
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