Darya Diamond is a Mexican-American artist who explores various forms of invisible labor. Primordial Workplace surveys embodied labor through the lens of her personal experience as a prostitute. Diamond’s practice is rooted in methods of reproduction, and the re-appropriation of ready-made materials to propose the body as a site of care, power, pleasure, and labor.
The reproduction of invisible labor, such as sex work, is a political gesture whose visual language is almost entirely derived from the contexts in which the artist’s labor occurs.Through personal surveillance footage, pornography stills, and the reproduction of items used in in-person sessions, the artist implicates these artifacts of pleasure into a new context of intimacy and care. A slip bought by one client becomes the artifact of a highly personal and substantive relationship. Bedsheets taken from her sessions with clients have been used, printed, and titled after the hotel they originate from. Formally, the sheets present visibility for an otherwise obscured labor sector, as art objects, they emerge at a juncture between the erotic and the banal.
Images of Diamond’s own optic nerves–one healthy, the other malformed– appear throughout the printed works. These images operate as an extension of the artist’s body, the naked eye as a portal into an experience economy. Much like the hotels where she works, the confessional spaces she embodies, or the persona she performs, the optic nerve is constantly redefined by its environment. Furthermore, as one eye is sharp and one eye is contorted we are confronted with a literal duality of perception, as in the message ofDiamond’s work itself. On one side we see the physical remnants of sex work, which often serve as easy targets for trite judgment and shallow assessments; on the other we see the embodied, political labor of sex work, which reveals how all labor is a political reflection of class, capitalism, and contemporary life.