Concrete Pour: Color Four
(observation and physical exercise)
The city is a wild place. This idea inspired my observational "wildlife" drawings on a concrete-pour construction site in Portland, Oregon. All of the workers were men, and this was the fourth and final concrete color poured over the course of the job. My activity there reversed the gaze of a common stereotype leveled against job sites, in which women are observed and commented on (in passing). Instead, I was the observant eye looking in to a chain-link fence fishbowl.
Over the course of 5 hours and 28 minutes, I observed, made drawings, and collected archaeological materials. Many of these objects were given to me by workers—some were requested, others were simply offered.
Over the course of the day, I became familiar with the workers, and they began to participate in my observation by showing me materials, describing processes, demonstrating unfamiliar tools, and bringing me debris from the site. It was like building a relationship starting from a point of confusion, moving into curiosity, and then achieving a peculiar symbiosis. They could not avoid my gaze.
Later, with a group of PSU students, we studied my drawings together and embodied the physical movements of the workers in an exercise, and then joined together to create a human cement truck in motion.