Portrait (When my feet could no longer go); Shoe soles, text; Dimensions variable; 2016
Testimony of a shoe factory worker :
At exactly 59 years of age, I was forced to find a job because the state company where I used to work got closed. Since I was ‘too old’ to find a job in my field, (according to the university diploma I had), I had to look for anything, and so I started to learn a shoemaking craft at this age. I got employed in a shoe making factory. I will tell you for literally the first day of work, but for the love of god, all the other days were the same. I sit on the desk, opposite to a young woman from whom I should learn the craft. The taskmaster enters (in this industry this person according to the status is immediately after the boss, and who besides other things is also responsible for inciting fear, for insult, for humiliation and for all inhuman things that should not happen to anyone), so she starts yelling: "You cows, you have raised your heads again! Bend your heads, get to work, I do not want to hear a sound from you!" I said to myself, I should be glad to have a job, I've come to honestly earn money. After the taskmaster, a girl at about the age of 11 entered, she was walking confidently and decisively between the desks and said: "You sheep bow your heads, until when my mother will pay you for nothing. If I was her, you would have seen! "From the very first day it became clear to me where I was. The days were passing and we continued to be geese and cows every day. And every day was the same, filled with fear of losing even the damn little pay you need so badly. Because I'm a rebel by nature, and at my previous job I was protecting worker’s rights, I started talking to the women not to tolerate this. So, few of us, one day climbed at the privileged stairs leading to the boss's office to complain. We complained, but the next day was hell. He gathered all of us 50 women, and told us no one should ever climb the stairs up to complain again. He said “If you do not like it, you know where the door is”. He also told us that the penalties for indiscipline were 10 to 20 percent of the wage bill. All the women bowed their heads and got back in their seats. In the hall, you could hear only the sound of the zuma and the hammer (zuma is a tool used for making leather shades), and all this for 7, 8 and at most nine thousand denars, from the morning from 7 am till 5 pm, Saturdays and holidays mandatory, and Sundays very often. Since then I began to hate the mornings and the rising sun, because I had to go to work every day without an exception. I carried a burden in my heart; in my soul I carried pain greater than all the worlds in this world, because I ceased to be a human being. I lost both pride and courage, and my joy was taken. They took everything from me, I only had 9 000 denars. And after three years of work, my health situation was getting worse, the rage in my soul was becoming bigger than me, and I continued to go to make shoes for the factory owner even though my legs were holding me back. And finally, when my feet could no longer go, I stayed home and said no, I'm not going anymore.