Monday, October 1, 2012

Maverique




Using the Google It mode of design I wrote about earlier I quickly found that Mavericks was a 'Revue Bar' or 'Gentleman's Club' in Cape Town. Or, as  High Court Judge Desai put it, "In less polite language, Mavericks appears to be a 'strip club'".

I am sure you all know me well enough by know to recognise that it was the High Court Judge bit of that introductory information that got me intrigued. At the time of writing Mavericks is embroiled in a hotly defended legal battle relating in the first instance to the  withdrawal of their corporate permits to  employ a total of 200 foreign workers as 'exotic dancers'. Permits were taken away for alledged lack of compliance with the Immigration Regulations and the conditions of the authorisation certifcate.

There was a hearing in the High Court of South African ( Western Cape High Court) on 3rd February 2012 when the club sought an interim restoration of its certifcate pending the fuller hearing of the issue. Not only did they fail, they got themselves into rather hotter water still once Judge Desai looked into the 'employment conditions' of the dancers.

In his judgment  he refers to them having "a flimsy one sided contract. They are guaranteed nothing. they have to share a room for which they pay rent on a weekly basis. They are not paid at all and given no benefits whatsoever. More alarmingly they have to pay Mavericks R2000 per week. "

He went on,
    "Although there have been several cases involving Mavericks and I assume that others have has sight of the contracts into which the dancers are obliged to enter, it apepars that it has been blandly accepted that these are exotic dancers whetever that may mean. The conditions under which the foreign dancers are procured, housed and expected to work makes them suseptable to exploitation. They are in a vulnerable situation and the fact that the person in control of them demands or at least expects large sum of money on a weekly basis places him in possible contravention of Article 3 of the Protocol to Prevent Supress and Punish Trafficking In Persons. I have not afforded [Mavericks] an opportunity to to be heard on this matter and there is insufficnet evidence with me to come to nay firm concludion on it.
  "However, I shall refer this matter  the Human Righs Commission for it to invetsigate..."

That case is underway and so I cannot tell you the conclusion. However, whatever the outcome against this club, human trafficking remains a very real problem. And it is not just an African problem.

The 2010 Trafficking in person report by the US Department of State found that there were 12.3 million slaves around the world. California was found to be a hot spot for domestic and international human trafficking. The United Nations estimates that 700,000 to 4 million women and children are trafficked for the purposes of forced prositution, labour and other forms of expolitation each year. Trafficking is estimated to be a US$7 billion dollar annnual business.

The irony of this quilt is that the term 'maverick' in terms of cattle comes from Samuel Maverick who did not brand his cattle as proof of his ownership. In my design  I have used a thermofax screen made from bar codes, airline baggage tags and boarding cards to brand the dancer as if she were a piece of cargo or cattle to be traded and shipped. The background is embroidered with the money symbols for dollars, pounds, euros and the South African Rand. anyone taking a close look will see some patches without seed sitching. I am tempte dto say they represnet the lost women with no voice. the actually respresent fact that I ran out of the thread the day before I ha dto post this due to going away and I live in a backwater where DMC thread is not on sale. It will be completed on my return from a place wth better shops!

11 comments:

Gerrie said...

That looks like my bum!! Wow - I love how you have incorporated symbolism with the design and theme of this piece. Your painted background fabric gives this some great zing. I am always interested in the little known stories that you tell us through your work.

Diane Perin Hock said...

Helen, I must admit to uttering a surprised laugh when your piece scrolled up, because the image of a pole dancer is not at all what I expected! As always, you illustrate a fascinating (and troubling) story. I so admire that you use your art expression to highlight social issues that many of us don't know about. I also love how you've incorporated so many details that add to the story -- the money symbols and the silk screened aspects of the dancer's skin.

kirsty said...

I chuckled, too, as the image appeared on my screen. But it's hardly a chuckling occasion, is it? My favourite part of your design is the background imaging. They stop the 'first glance giggle' in its tracks.

Brenda Gael Smith said...

After your 12NW piece in the theme series alluding to Liverpool's slavery history, I am intrigued that your pole dancer is wearing a LPL leotard.

I can't wait to update the website and to see all your 2012 pieces together.

Kristin L said...

What a lot to put into one small quilt! I like the idea of branding the dancer. It's really too bad that there are Maveriques all over the world.

Deborah Boschert said...

As Brenda mentioned, I'm also eager to see all your pieces together. You're creating such a cohesive series. I've heard some news stories about human trafficking and it's absolutely horrifying and deplorable how vast the problem is. The branding with the bar codes is very powerful.

Robin said...

You definately get someone's attention and I think you should leave the empty spaces as the representation of the lost!!

Terri Stegmiller said...

I wondered how you were going to interpret this one. You always seem to amaze me with your quilts and the facts behind the ideas.

Karen said...

This is another wonderful piece of social commentary from you Helen, I always look forward to what you have to say. Like Brenda it will be interesting to see them all together.

Nikki said...

Being late to check out the quilts has it advantages -- I'm able to check out the website with all the quilts together. You have a very powerful series Helen!

Terry Grant said...

Heart-breaking. Even before I read the narrative, I could see a real sadness in that figure, simple as it is. One would hope to see energy and tension in the silhouette of a dancer, but this one has a feeling of lethargy and depression. Don't know how you did that, but wow! it works.