Produced over the course of two years and several visits to Cincinnati, Sounding Labor, Silent Bodies features historical visual ephemera alongside a new suite of artwork that examines the contradictions present in the rhetoric of progress that accompanied America’s industrial past. Often mediated through the body, Candiani’s work recognizes the politics of voice and insists on the expressive potential of repetitive movement forming what the artist calls “a choreography of labor.” The centerpiece of the exhibition is a three-channel film featuring a women’s choir reciting the sounds of disappearing forms of manual work. The resulting a cappella music, which recalls pouring, squealing, cutting and hammering, echo through the galleries as a requiem for four industries that dominated Cincinnati’s workforce in the late 19th century. Sounding Labor, Silent Bodies highlights women as a corrective to dominant historical narratives that excluded their role as factory workers, and suggests parallels with current struggles against gender inequality.
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