Para Site is pleased to present Afterwork, a major group exhibition exploring issues of class, race, labour and migration in Hong Kong and the surrounding region. It is part of Para Site’s ongoing Hong Kong’s Migrant Domestic Workers Project (21 July 2015–21 July 2016), a longterm initiative aimed at engaging the domestic worker community through collaboratively organised public programmes and commissioned artist research. As an exhibition, it is nevertheless an autonomous proposition, including the often ambivalent and polychromatic aspects of the social and cultural mosaic of Hong Kong, Philippines, Indonesia and beyond.
Domestic workers represent one of the most visible components of Hong Kong’s society and their legal and symbolic status are matters of constant negotiation, reflecting the shifting position of Hong Kong citizenship. The group’s invisibility in the various narratives of what
constitutes the Hong Kong society is countered by the hypervisible weekly occupation of Hong Kong’s public spaces for the Sunday picnic gathering of the community. It was the social spaces and cultural structures constituted around this regular gathering that facilitated the beginnings of our project. At Para Site, we strongly believe in art’s potential as a tool for re-imagining the meaning of community in Hong Kong, between the different groups and communities that inhabit it.
Afterwork looks at Hong Kong’s largest minority group, and tells their stories – crucial narratives that need to be told alongside the growing affluence of Hong Kong in the past decades, and on the backdrop of the different historical waves of labour migration in Hong Kong and the world. It is not, however, meant to patronizingly give a voice to or be the vindicator of the struggles of migrant workers. The show takes into consideration the representation of migrant domestic workers from various perspectives to provide critical reflection on the persisting issues of discrimination, stereotypes, legal status, but also domesticity, rest, and privacy. The very notion of representation is also placed into question throughout the show. Afterwork includes the work of artists of different practices, contexts, and generations dealing with the issues, aesthetics, and histories of migrant labour. Several artists venture into the personal implications of the presence of domestic workers in households, the public sphere, and the artists’ lives. Other artists create abstract landscapes that bring a different and necessary vocabulary in an exhibition that tries to address such a wide and contradictory array of topics and perspectives, from personal desires and dreams to historical processes.
In addition to the exhibition, Para Site is also launching Afterwork Readings, a major anthology of literature about and by migrant domestic workers, produced in collaboration with KUNCI Cultural Studies Center from Yogyakarta, as the culmination of their project The Afterwork Reading Club (Klub Baca Selepas Kerja). The book contains short stories, poems, and excerpts from novels and plays, written by classical literary figures of the region, established contemporary authors, as well as domestic workers, with some having been commissioned following their participation in our reading group. It is printed in four different languages (Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese, English and Tagalog), with the hope to create a platform facilitating the encounter and exchange through literature between the different migrant worker communities. It is also aiming to bring together the most relevant texts on this issue of great importance, written in our region over the past century, as well as to promote the work of the most promising writers from among the domestic workers community.
Afterwork is curated by Freya Chou, Cosmin Costinas, Inti Guerrero, and Qinyi Lim.
Collaborator: Acción Cultural Española, AC/E
Media Partner: My Art Guides