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Alex Melia

BIOGRAPHY | SERIES | PORTFOLIO | BLOG

Working Class

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        Before shooting at a factory I read textbooks trying to learn manufacturing technology, but still I cannot imagine the reality of what I will see ahead of time. At the steel plant huge chimneys draw in the fire and drive all of the manufacturing. There is a lot of smoke, steam and air here. The air turns into a fire and creates steel. By the open hearth furnace the gist of air rips the hard hat from photographers head. Its a land of men, here they commit their heroic deeds, but they are small and almost nobody sees them.
        The brick walls of textile factory were built back in the 19th century. Several generations of women make linen here. Seems like everything will stop any minute. Maybe just the ghosts will be left, or maybe nothing at all.
        After about an hour of shooting at the bread factory it seemed to me that a miracle is born here. Bread is alive, hands of women create a new life.
        The manufacturing world is almost invisible; the goods appear at the shelves of the stores directly from advertisement reels shown on television; clothes are made by top models on the runways. Behind the phantom of TV-Magazine fashion world is hidden the industrial mega-machine. Factories, mines, oil wells connect with each other with pipelines, railroads, sea ports. Machines dont know how to do things on their own they need a human hand. All things that surround us were touched by a hand of a worker.
        I spent my childhood on the outskirts of Moscow next to power plants, factories, dump sites. On rusty rails stood a locomotive entangled by pipes. It couldnt leave anymore and was used to heat up water for the factory. Several truckloads of flippers were thrown out at the dump site. It looked like blue-green carpet flowing into the water. Around the factory was an exclay field. Under the layer of exclay were water pits. To prevent falling into one those who were leading the way would poke the exclay with a stick. Behind the power plant is a cemetery. My grandfather, grandmother and father are now buried there. From the grave to the dump is about 200 meters.

Alex Melia