In Regina Spektor's album fartwork for Far, we are confronted with a complex vision of labour and oppression. To break it down, let's start with the text.
The words "regina spektor" and "far" are placed at the central top portion of the image, in the same font, size and spacing from each other. This emphasises that neither the person nor the produce are in competition - both are equally important (or unimportant, as we shall soon see). Regina's name is coded in black, or the feminine yang. The fruit of her labour is coded in white - the masculine yin. This is to represent the totality of the working person.
Curiously, the font chosen is a hollow font, and is intentionally used here to represent the vacuous role of art and artist in the larger scheme of things. People see through them even as they see them.
The image itself is an illustration of a lady cleaning her piano from graffiti that clearly has been sprayed all over her instrument of music. Eventhough the lady is hard at work wiping the stain off, she is clearly pleased with the progress she is making. We the viewer, of course, are not privy to her progress. This has serious significance, because the lady represents the working class woman, cleaning the graffiti stain of the slums as it invades even whatever little she has that represents a bourgeois existence. Her environment is self-destructive. Yet, we cannot see her results. Her labour, like all working class labour, is hidden from our bourgeois eyes.
Her environment is also constricting. Behind her, where an open window should reveal an open sky, there is instead a brick wall. This case of poor building craftsmanship represents the poverty of the entire architectural concept - another sign that all elements of the middle-class is under threat.
The cleaning lady herself - resembling the actual Regina Spektor - has brownish red hair and brownish red lips. Nothing else on her is coloured, but the colouration of her hair and lips is cryptic. It seems to imply that objects of personal beauty alone can triumph in this constricted space.
All-in-all, this album fartwork is saying that for the working class woman, living in a working class environment replete with vandalism and shoddy building work, the only escape for her is her beauty. But consider this: the very thing she is trying to wipe off - the sky graffiti - is itself a symbol of freedom and emancipation. Unknowingly, in her faithful labour, she destroys all hope of eventual escape. Truly, this is Regina's most cynical, bitter commentary on life till date.
Regina Spektor - Folding Chair