Goodbye Blue Monday
The film and photographs that compose Goodbye Blue Monday, are an index of postindustrialization marked upon the American landscape and the laboring body. The subject is the town of Newton, Iowa, its population just shy of sixteen thousand, which lost four thousand jobs when the Maytag Corporation was purchased by Whirlpool in 2006 and subsequently closed its headquarters and manufacturing plants. Since 2007, Friges has been documenting the changes within the community and tracking the economic and social consequences of Maytag's withdrawal. As historical counterpoint, John Sutherland's Why Play Leap Frog? (1949) has been incorporated in the project and is available along with Friges' film. Explaining the “leap frog” effect of price and wage inflation, the short animated propaganda film emphasizes that increased productivity and innovation are mutually beneficial for labor and management.
Friges' 16mm film also titled Why Play Leap Frog? (2010) utilizes much of the gutted interior of Maytag's two-million-square-foot main manufacturing plant. Shot and edited as to reflect the continuous flow of the assembly line, the camera's long, smooth tracking shot follows the line of the now absent conveyor belt, and captures the gestures of workers performing repetitive tasks from muscle memory at their former workstations.