Cotton black, cotton blue

Jost Franko

2015 - Ongoing

Burkina Faso

My red dress, printed with tiny white and yellow flowers. Maybe the cotton was grown in Burkina Faso. Without ploughs, without tractor sprinklers, without combines and subsidies, with bad seeds. Maybe the fabric was woven in large dark and noisy halls where tedious work may have been done by children because their hands are tiny and skilful. Maybe it was coloured by men working in even darker and noisier places where the air - thick and full of poisonous gasses - glues itself to their skin, corroded with aggressive chemicals. Maybe it was made by a seamstress, maybe by a guy whose possessions are stacked in a small backpack that's hanging on a wall above his work station. Which is, at the same time, also his bedroom. But surely, the one who gave my dress a name, earned some substantial money along the way.

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  • Local farmers are seen at the so-called market, a collection centre for cotton, in a village near Dano, Burkina Faso, on November 11th, 2015.

    Just before the market day, farmers help each other press the cotton into a huge, hard mass, so they're able to weigh their harvest.

  • Family members of Issa Gira walk on the pile of cotton, after it was brought into the warehouse next to their home, in Boromo, Burkina Faso, on November 28th 2015.

    Issa Gira, 67, has been growing cotton for 30 years.

  • Villagers pick cotton in a village near Toussiana, Burkina Faso, on December 3rd 2015.

  • Local farmers load the cotton onto the Sofitex containers, at the so-called collection centre, near Boro, in Burkina Faso, on December 9th 2015.

  • Workers vacuum cotton from containers in Sofitex factory in Hounde, Burkina Faso, on December 8th 2015.

  • Cotton farmers are seen loading the cotton into the Sofitex container, near Boro village in Burkina Faso, on December 9th 2015.

    Sofitex is one of the three companies in Burkina Faso, that buys cotton from farmers and provides loans to cultivators.

  • A farmer extracts the seed out of the cotton crop, in Boromo, Burkina Faso, on November 28th 2015.

  • Aruna Ottara's family members carry cotton to the collection point, in Diongolo, Burkina Faso, on December 1st 2015.

    Aruba Ottara has produced 6 hectares of cotton in 2015 season; he's considered as a big producer for local circumstances.

  • Farmer picks up the harvest in a cotton field near Toussiana, in Burkina Faso, on December 3rd 2015.

  • Worker is seen in cotton spinning mill in Narsingdi, Bangladesh, on March 12th 2016.

    The spinning mill is a part of Momin Textile Mills, a company that owns 18 factories, working from cotton spinning, to cloth making and colouring the textile. All 18 factories are based in Narsingdi.

  • Worker in a textile dying and printing factory controls the cloth after it is dyed in Norsingdi, Bangladesh, on March 8th 2016.

    The dying and printing company started in 1985 and gradually started to expand. Today, they employ 500 workers and plans to expand additionally. They print and dye cloth for both local and export companies.

  • Washed jeans are seen in a factory in Savar area of Dhaka, Bangladesh on March 3rd 2016.

    The washing plant does work for larger Western companies and employs around 100 people.

    The plant combines manual labour and large washing machines. Workers therefore have to manually wash the clothing with bare hands during part of the process. They testified about regular infections the poisonous waste water causes to their skin.

    Even though a lot of chemicals are used in the process, the factory doesn't use water treatment plants for waste water.

  • Worker operates the washing machine in Savar area of Dhaka, Bangladesh, on March 3rd 2016.

    The washing plant does work for larger Western companies and employs around 100 people.

  • Workers are seen in Zaara Jeans garment factory in Mirpur area, Dhaka, in Bangladesh, on March 15th 2016.

    The factory employs 1200 workers, who mostly produce jeans and jackets.

  • Young garment worker carries jeans to a storage room nearby in Old Dhaka, Bangladesh on March 14th 2016.

    The small informal factories mostly work for local production, but take subcontracted work for larger factories. Since rent is too expensive for most workers, they sleep in the factories.

  • Garment workers leave the factory (in the back) after their shift in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on March 9th 2016.

  • Garment workers eat supper after work in their home in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on March 9th 2016.

    Most of the family is employed in the garment industry. Even though all of them work, their living conditions are extremely bad. The room in the photograph is the entire home for 7 people, and is roughly 5-6 square meters big.

  • Textile worker irons trousers in Dhaka, Bangladesh on March 13th 2016.

    The production in these garments is mostly intended for local markets, but they accept subcontracted work for larger retail companies. Since rent is too expensive for most workers, they sleep in the factories.

  • A woman does the laundry in Menges, Slovenia, on May 15th 2016.

  • A teenager tries a dress in larger retail store in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on April 19th 2016.

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