an unsatisfying metaphor

ryan s. jeffery | united states, 2020 | 37'

what does the world trade organization's art collection tell about the story of globalization? it begins in geneva in 1919 at the founding of the international labour organization after the first world war, and it crescendos at the century's end with the protests of the wto ministerial meetings in seattle in 1999. if there is an antagonist in this story it is a building. once the home of the international labour organization (ilo), it was originally built under a mission of social justice and the dignity of work, following the chaos of world war. but by the 1970s, and culminating in the 90s, the building is faced with a crisis of character, made apparent by its transformation from an organization for international labour into an organization for the world's trade, the wto. pitted against the building is the protagonist of the disembodied hand. the hand's journey begins inside the building, adorning the walls of its interiors in celebrated depictions of women and men laboring from around the world. but a consequence of the building's turn sends the hand into exile, and the human body with it. images of working people were covered up or taken down and replaced by maps, globes and grids. a world of work was replaced by a world in flow. the hand could find no place in this new image. this story follows the hand's journey from the field, the factory, the market and the site of global governance, out to the street and to the work of reimagining in the face of radical uncertainty. (ryan s. jeffery)

director, script, editing ryan s. jeffery | cinematography ryan s. jeffery, ben beres | sound ethan rose | narration cristina linclau | distribution / copy source ryan s. jeffery