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  • Sofia Karim


Savar I

On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza garments factory in Savar, Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,134. Global trade unions called it a “mass industrial homicide”.

Bangladesh’s rapid economic growth has been fuelled by the garments industry, yet wages remain amongst the lowest in the world.

The current government has just secured its fourth term through an election marred in violence, arrests, intimidation and evidence of vote rigging.

“Economic development” is the narrative of success used by an increasingly authoritarian government known for its human rights abuses, disappearances, extra judicial killings and repression of media.

As I write, over 3,000 garments workers strike over wages in Savar.

Sofia Karim 13.01.2019

Savar - Cotton, rice starch, milk, stitching 80cm x 80cm, 2019

Savar II

It takes 90 seconds for the factory to collapse. Why did you make us enter after we showed you the cracks?

Now my body is a pile of rubble, organs burst and strewn between dusty boulders. I knew my body was an instrument, but to bear that great compression as plate rubs plate.

There are some still alive, deep in the concrete pockets of this labyrinth. Eyes blink but no limb can move. The minotaur, hungry and stirred from sleep by veils of screams, will find them sooner than the rescue worker, wild with fatigue, sawing bone after bone.

Now night falls and my spirit begins to detach, lifting with the April air. The abstraction of death presents itself in it’s terrible majesty.

I will take my time and enact my burial rites: Broken body parts bound in white cotton, shroud stiffens to bindings with mother’s milk and rice. Sacred offerings in the darkness of the tomb.

Umbilical cord draws tighter, but nothing can keep me as I lift up into abstractions open space.

Savar - Cotton, rice starch, milk, stitching 80cm x 80cm, 2019

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