The Construction site is often populuarized by the music video by Fifth Harmony’s, ‘Work from Home’, where bodies of young muscular and tanned american men are sexualized and rewarded with women showering them with their oversexed female bodies. I always find the construction site, as the site of the sexual. But I also see the site, as a queer space, that undoes a lot of our own assumptions about what our understanding of spaces are, in terms of value, utility and overall aesthetics. I want to take the thought from the music video by Fifth forward, and think of construction site as not only sites of sexualness and it’s intricate connection with capitalism, but of a darker impulse to see the construction site as the subversion of capitalist truths and fables, of our obsession with sculpted bodies, much like buildings, and our relative complicities in ignoring the violence behind such ‘work, work, work..’, as pro-capitalist enticements that glamorize labour for as long as it has hot men who seem quite happy with their work as women twerk while they weld metals; the sheer irony of it all makes me laugh. In the indian context the construction site is a dite of feudal violence against minorities who, as part of an informal, unregulated and unpaid economy, work on contract assignments while their children play with the cement, and their clothes hang on the clothesline between the grotesque, grey, volatile cement walls. The construction workers family, all migrate from one unfinished building to another, carrying the clotheslines ropes, a handful of tainted clothes, and maybe a charcoal burner that helps them cook on the spot, as they eat, fuck and sleep, and live together as they work on the site. The images of capitalist fantasy survive upon elimination of their histories and blood, upon which we privilege the mind over body. To millennials like us who happen to have no control over our own diets and deadlines, I wonder how does the work of a labour who does what he does, can ever be given a lower treatment, both in terms of money and respect, to future academics who write about it while they sip on their starbucks coffee in the very building that explains their so called “subaltern histories.” ; both are equally imprisoned under the industrial capitalist complex that seeks to validate their lives while the master has tricked both of it’s slaves, giving them expectations of a divine award that they take to be true.
We see the wooden crutches supporting the lifeless beast before the steel heals and grows, it’s capitalist veins and nerves gaining it’s eventual vigour and vitality. The construction site for me is an appropriation of human nature condensed as the steel and cement cools and tighten, smothering the ones inside as they come to live under it’s corporeal impenetrability. The site is also a capitalist mystique that ensnares the human subject by making it forget the wooden crutches it very much needed to be materially made in the first place; it seduces the class oblivious subject to accept a capitalistic permanence with it’s irreversible grandeur and splendor. The construction site is a fable whose master designs it for all of us to find a religious truth in it, the hiding of the labour, the sweat and it’s original form is essential to maintain that mystery. When the site will be made, just like the forgotten wood and labour, the new building will be seen as the divine intervention of the capitalist mafia, the ‘already present’ unknowable that relies on the act of our deliberate forgetting which maintains it’s dominant allure. The construction site, is the other that we choose to forget, see or share, as the abject conditions under which it is made, can then
be luxuriously forgotten.
I also found that in a large number of pop cultural texts, the solitude of a construction site is also a domain of eccentric sexual encounters, and emo fantasies that absolve us of our touch with human sociality, and just escape to a zone where human contact is null and void. The construction site, especially when it reaches a perpetual halt, also becomes a site of meditative sexuality and innate thought. It becomes a non-human zone, for misanthropic fantasies that the current structures of humanity, i.e. the completed buildings, do not provide. Hence just like the continuum of culture and nurture reaches an epic halt, the contradictions of space and value in construction sites as both opaque and see through, the inhabitable vs the future habitable, the naturalistic vs the modern then becomes this aporia within which these tropes are experienced by the existentialist and the doubting human subject. Perhaps every time I see a construction site, adjacent to a fancy building, I see the sweat, labour and seclusion of the poor, the artifice of capitalism, and the undeserved privilege within which I silently watch, as I mourn my own complicity and repulsion from it. The construction site, much like an abandoned dungeon, much like a ominous laboratory, much like any other radical mystical and mysterious space, makes me feel queer and experimental. The construction site is the mingling of different worlds, while as we know, it’s potential outcome will lead to it’s very eventual elimination of such pluralities and differences. The construction site offers to me, a queer space that tessellate a void that allows us to purge our assumptions about spaces, people, relationships and sexuality. It alternates between being a habitable space, to a space that allows for subversive and perverted acts to exist. It also shows us that the people whose blood and sweat we refuse to acknowledge, are very much theirs, and that their material labour will never be commensurate with the rewards that they get. You will always see a construction site closed with green tapered sheets and a corporate’s sigil denoting that the space is bought. It doesn’t want you to know you can exist outside of pretty buildings. It does not want you to imbibe within our aesthetics, the standards of beauty and life that our ancestors enjoyed before us, when the smiles around their faces didn’t come from corporate affiliations or money made from paper, but sharing bodies, thoughts and prayers that collectivized within us a unity. The capitalist works to hide these unities by using beautiful structures as tools of distraction. The construction site, for me, then becomes a counter tool that unsubscribes us of our complicities with finding beauty within finished and polished art. Like most abandoned spaces, the site is thus a queerness that transcends the illusion of our comforts and an indifference of stark reality. The construction site is thus, an exhibition of the oppressed, couched in the indifference generated by my own complicities and privileges, as the aporia that we experience, a cognitive dissonance marked by the dialectical clash of our inner conflicts and hidden identities, an open synchronic space open to radical possibilities but is a diachronic inevitability which will close the portals, as the capitalist life awakens, mark the tragic wake of a queer, contradictory and a whimsical world.