MR4- Maquila Región 4 (2010 / 2013)
ARTWORKS 1 / LABOR & TECHNODIVERSITY
MR4 is a performative intervention in the labour landscape of marginal areas of Mexico. For the MR4 project, “Maquilas” are re-imagined in the tradition of critical work by Fusco, Barrios, Arce, Werthein and other artist-activists. Maquilas are border town factories in which Mexico provides raw materials and cheap labour, mostly women, and the US provides management and ownership.
MR4 is a mobile factory for the manufacture of electronic-textile artworks. This nomadic workshop travels to poor areas of Mexico offering American minimum wage ($8.00 per hour, compared to $1.20 per hour in Mexico). People are hired to produce fully functional electronic circuits using conductive thread. Maquilas’ two main products, textiles and electronics, are mixed by the MR4 project, using sowing and embroidery which are common aptitudes among people in these marginal areas. The actual textile-schematic circuits produced are alarms which ring with different tones when a proximity sensor is activated.
Once a piece is finished, the worker embroiders on it a unique QR code. As the QR is decoded, typically by a consumer with a smart phone, a web page appears which renders visibility to the process of production: name of the worker, location, date and duration of the work session and salary received.