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Wrestling, by Polly Tootal, is from her ongoing series The Hands That Built This City, which documents the daily lives of the men who live in the UAE’s labour camps, in all its banality and complexity. The labourers, brought in to prop up Dubai’s infrastructural aspirations are often enticed with false promises of prosperity, only to end up earning meagre wages and living in crowded accommodations with no proper plumbing.
With their passports seized and family visits forbidden the plight of the workers documented in The Hands That Built This City is rendered invisible in the name of globalisation and capitalism.
Born out of a sense of a shared struggle, the men become extremely protective of one another, finding comfort in their newly formed friendships. However, this is neither a romantic tale of resilience nor a tale of dystopian inevitability.
The artist’s decision to use artificial lighting to prop up natural daylight drives the aesthetic approach of the series, turning the real into unreal, the banal into the bizarre.
As a single female voice in a sea of uprooted men, the artist forces us to question what a world without women and children might look like. What sort of relationships emerge in such circumstances? Whilst the artist does not answer these questions directly, her images bring into focus how a complex system of modern slavery affects the big issues of today: gender, culture, race and migration.

(This print qualifies for free shipping in the UK and Europe.)

Date: 2020
Dimensions: 280mmx360mm
Medium: Archival pigment print
Frame: No-frame supplied
Edition: 1/5 (signed and numbered). This work is also available in a larger size in an edition of 3 + 1 AP.
With authenticity certificate

About the Artist
Tootal’s photography has emerged out of a continual exploration of the possibilities of space between a variety of extremes; theatre/reality, the contemporary world mirroring history, transience/permanence, the bizarre in the banal.  Polly Tootal has lived and worked in London since graduating from Editorial Photography at the University of Brighton. Her landscape studies have been awarded the Prix Du Public Vile D’Heres Photographie 2015 and The Association of Photographers Award – Landscape Series 2010. Tootal presents regularly in solo exhibitions, group shows, and at art fairs throughout Britain, Europe, and North America. Notably, she exhibited at the Palazzo Rialto as part of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014. Prints of her work are held in private collections in the USA, Europe, and the UK.


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