Part theater and part demonstration, SWEAT features Chan weaving baskets in a durational performance over several days. The baskets are made with bale straps, a common detritus of global capitalism found around nearly every box shipped across the globe, binding box to box, paper to paper, and everything to pallets. Chan has salvaged the bale straps from the streets, and from neighboring shopkeepers who save them for her. Some have agreed to do so in exchange for a finished basket, others have agreed just because.
“Basket weaving is often used as an insult to belittle someone’s work,” says Chan, who noticed the waste of bale straps after they have fulfilled their purpose. “Many kinds of skills and knowledge related to self-sufficiency have been similarly denigrated.” Chan believes that the separation between consumers and creators destroys our connections, and potential solidarities. By engaging and creating handmade utilitarian products from industrial waste, with a performance design that emphasizes her hands and arms, Chan hopes to illuminate multiple aspects of the capitalist transaction, “the devalued, invisible worker and the reified artist, both ever haunted by the deskilled consumer.”