The necessity of luxury requires no conscience – 2009
Colonial and post-colonial capitalist exploitation accounts for much of the high standard of living first world countries enjoy. Crops of coffee or cocoa or the mining of metals and minerals feeds the greedy consumption needs of the developed world. To obtain these essentials at the right price they must be produced at a minimum dollar cost to ensure a maximum profit return. To achieve this requires maximum exploitative skills. The production and gleaning of coffee extensively exploits child labour in third world sites and criminal traders turn a blind eye to the sourcing of goods. End-users (coffee drinkers) are oblivious of what it takes to fill their cups with this delicacy.
To highlight component sources of coffee and cocoa I have combined various cultural found aesthetic symbols. Immersed in a hand-carved crafted wooden cup (reminiscent of Meret Oppenheim’s Dada piece) is a small sculpture, a curio, made specifically for the tourist market by the forced labour of political prisoners in Mozambique under the Portuguese secret police (Pide) in the early seventies. These were made by the thousands and sold in ‘curio’ shops in Johannesburg, South Africa. This stylized Zebra wood carving of an anguished emaciated old man is made by an unknown Makonde wood carver – an imprisoned suspected Frelimo freedom fighter. The Makonde are famed for their high-level sculptural carving skills. The two die on the saucer represent sugar cubes and refer to the exploitation in the sugar industry. The teaspoon is made of carved bone.
Now sanitised for service, the cup of coffee is elegantly supported and propped-up on an inverted European compotier (fruit bowl).