Screening 4

Saturday, 17 July, 7.45pm

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Lynne Sachs and Lizzie Olesker

Film still from The Washing Society by Lynne Sachs & Lizzie Olesker. Two women rest in front of large washing machines, there is a clock on the wall and a laundry basket full of washing on top of the washing machines.

The Washing Society

Lynne Sachs, Lizzie Olesker, United States, 2018, 44:00

When you drop off a bag of dirty laundry, who’s doing the washing and folding?

The Washing Society brings us into New York City laundromats and the experiences of the people who work there. Filmmaker Lynne Sachs and playwright Lizzie Olesker observe the disappearing public space of the neighbourhood laundromat and the continual, intimate labour that happens there.

Inspired by To ‘Joy My Freedom author Tera Hunter’s depiction of the 1881 organization of African-American laundresses in Atlanta, The Washing Society investigates the intersection of history, underpaid work, immigration, and the sheer math of doing laundry. 

Drawing on each other’s artistic practices, Sachs and Olesker present a stark yet poetic vision of those whose working lives often go unrecognized, turning a lens onto their hidden stories, which are often overlooked.  Dirt, skin, lint, stains, money, and time are thematically interwoven into the very fabric of The Washing Society through interviews and observational moments.

With original music by sound artist Stephen Vitiello, the film explores the slippery relationship between the real and the re-enacted with layers of dramatic dialogue and gestural choreography. The juxtaposition of narrative and documentary elements in The Washing Society creates a dream-like, yet hyper-real portrayal of a day in the life of a laundry worker, both past and present.

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