Sherpas

2014

as part of International Travel

Image credit: Anthony Hamilton

 

 

CarryLoad

The idea of what ‘work’ is has changed in the developing world. We have come to understand the value of ‘immaterial labour’: the kind of work that is invisible – work like thinking and inventing and promoting – that adds value to products and that makes the commercial cogs of global capitalism keep cranking.

In the developed world we each have all the objects we need to keep our own worlds turning; however in order to keep us longing for more products capitalism needs material labour to create desire – to keep us thinking that what we have is not enough – that what we don’t have is even better.

Creative production includes many aspects that can be included within the ambit of immaterial labour – work that requires intellectual and imaginative work. However in other places sheer old-style work is still as essential as it ever was.

In the Himalaya, where there are still no roads, men must still carry loads.

Why watercolour? A medium that is light and pretty seems unsuited to suck weighty subject matter.

Men bearing loads sometimes double their body weight. Sometimes loads made up of tiny insignificant trinkets. Men whose stares are fixed to the ground immediately in front of them; focused only on the next step. Men whose weight is supported on sticks to bear their weight forward as they ascend.

Their loads are marked by the brands from elsewhere, in languages other than their own.