RAM Lecture | The Parallel Worlds and Queer Lives of Hong Kong’s Indonesian Housemaids: Migrant, Sexuality and Self-recognition
Feb 29, 2020 Saturday 19:00 - 20:30
Tongji-Huangpu School of Design and Innovation
Apples for Sale is a photographic study of the daily life of Indonesian domestic workers in Hong Kong. With little to no leisure time or personal space, these labour migrants construct a parallel identity using social media channels. Far from home and in a completely female subculture, the women develop an ambiguous sexual identity. Sampson portrays this population in a layered multi-media narrative, consisting of documentary photography, social media footage, and text.
Over 300,000 foreign domestic workers work and live in Hong Kong. The large majority is from Indonesia and the Philippines. These women often work more than twelve hours a day, six days a week, under appalling terms of employment. Although they are officially entitled to one day off a week, this law is often not observed in practice. Sleeping on a mattress next to the laundry machine, in the kitchen or under the stairs, these women frequently lack private space to spend their scarce leisure time. Due to the lack of personal space, and trapped in the rigid corset of their daily housekeeping duties, many women seek solace on social media, where they maintain extensively elaborated alter egos. For these women, photographs offer a powerful (and often the only) means of preserving a certain measure of autonomy. The mutual quest for intimacy and (sexual) identity is largely expressed online in the form of photographs and videos, shared on social media.
SAMPSON collected selfies of domestic workers dressed up as comic book heroes or pop stars, as well as private videos of their daily work environment and photos of their improvised sleeping spaces in order to document such distinctly female ‘sub-culture’, with a multimedia installation involving her own photographs and narratives, pictures and texts of third parties, providing the audience with 360 degrees of entry point into this peculiar, jarring world.
Rebecca SAMPSON is a German-American photographer in Berlin, who is passionate about news reporting and social commentary. Her work involves a rich range of social and cultural topics - from the African drug trafficking community in Berlin to the eccentricities of Minnesota family, from the obsession with guns to the treatment for eating disorders. For that, she has developed an innovative photographic treatment. The last project won Gute Aussichten - Junge Deutsche Fotografie Award. She also holds scholarships of the Foam Museum in Amsterdam, Robert Bosch Stiftung and Literary Colloquium (LCB) in Berlin. Her work has been exhibited at the Deichtorhallen Museum/Haus der Photographie in Hamburg and the Willy Brandt Haus in Berlin, as well as other countries such as the United States, India, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Austria and Cyprus.
Free admission, reservation is required.