John Vea: "you kids should only experience this for a moment - don't be here for life like me"
“Every summer break for University, I often register myself into a temping agency for work to keep up with the cost of living. This habit started at an early age, as kids living in Herne Bay in the late 80s we were exposed to factory work from an early age. During our school holidays, my parents couldn’t afford baby sitters or holiday programmes, so we tagged along with our parents, uncles and aunties to their work places. The temping agency I enrolled into generally contracts work for factory industrial jobs, very minimal mundane repetitive activities in eight hour plus shifts for five to six days a week. This summer break, I worked at a potato chip plant, my role was to cut potatoes and lookout for foreign objects.”
As part of an ongoing enquiry into the conditions of labour, this latest exhibition by John Vea hones in on the people that work in Auckland’s factories. Focusing on how long days spent performing monotonous tasks affects the workers, he recreates the atmosphere of the potato chip plant as an installation for the gallery space. The work allows the audience to immerse themselves in a similar experience to that lived daily by the workers. As far removed from the reality of factories as the art world can be, the artist bridges both spaces with this new piece, named after a statement heard on his first day at the factory from the mouth of a Samoan worker. Her advice to the younger generation becomes a cautionary tale encompassing both hope and despair in one sentence.
Supported by Auckland City Council Contemporary Art Foundation