Magazines around paperweights

For Freunde von Freunden I was asked to interview workers in a clothing factory, three hours outside of Shanghai. First I had to shoo away the manager who was looking over my shoulder — because it made the workers nervous and all the answers fabricated: “I love my job, and my boss is very good to us!” But to be fair to them, the conditions were better than I expected, except for the sheer monotony of the work. I asked the workers how their days looked like, and they’d reply that they would just start in the morning and finish in the afternoon, doing a single task in a lengthy process of making jackets. Some did mention: “Our hands are occupied, but our mouths are free, so we talk and talk all day long.” This lady was trained in using computers and told me: “I like reading magazines. I cut out the photos of famous singers and wrap them around the paperweights I use.” And I liked that. In an environment of icy efficiency, she added her own style that served no other purpose than to please herself.