/08 Works

Isabelle Pateer

Manufacturing Apathy

I shot this body of work shortly after I graduated as a master in photography in 2004.

Introduced by the company of my parents, who are dealing with the in- and export of metal parts for agricultural industry, I got access to a big metal factory in Ukraine, which is the subject of this series. Quite ambitious as a young 24 old I wanted to turn my curiosity and fascination for this place of 33 ha into a documentary series. I was fascinated by the day to day routines of the about 2000 factory workers I met there on the plant, functioning as a small village on its own, with many different workshops, roads which connects them, restaurants and even their own medical and dentist department.

Even though I entered this project on a ‘management level’ by travelling with my father who spoke with the representatives of this place, I wanted to focus on the workers rather than on the administrative and directorial board. Now, about 8 years later I think differently about this. I think I could tell more about the level of the directory board in which my father (who travelled with me) was working, but I think many young photographers feel attracted to ‘the other side’ with which they are not familiar and use their camera as a way to approach and connect to an unknown subject.

During the couple of weeks I lived amongst these factory workers it struck me how the working habits of these factory workers were still very much embedded in past (perhaps Communistic) routines, although capitalism had invaded the Ukrainian society more than 10 years ago. The title of the series partly reflects this feeling.

This online presentation shows a small selection of the photographs I shot during my stay of about 4 weeks. Not only brought this project a rich experience to me personally, it also brought a new starting point in which I began to search for a more personal approach in documenting reality as a starting point. So although presently I feel a bit skeptical about the quality and coherence of the series as a whole, I am still fond of the memory and the psychological reaction this series brought about. If you compare these photographs with my more recent award winning series ‘Unsettled’ www.unsettled.eu it can be regarded as a starting point in which my more recent personal work is rooted.