Back to Love of Sun | 回去

1. Simms.arya_elly_2backdrops5501 2. Simms.erendz_angie_pigy5502 3. Simms.ninia_w_santa5503 6. Simms.taj_mahal5504 7. Simms.dwi_veiled_frnd_plantation5505 9. Simms.Pugi_anna_friends_syd_opera_house5506 10. Simms.Radit, Alfin Tari, Vicky, Daniar, Angga, Tia.5507 11. Simms.Viv & Friend Tulips5508


These images were taken in Hong Kong of Indonesian and Filipina migrant domestic workers, many of whom are trans and/or in lesbian relationships. Working with the Indonesian Migrant Workers Union in Hong Kong, I was introduced to several women interested in being photographed. Many were working 2000 miles from home to support a younger sibling through school, to pay family medical bills or save money to start a family and home back in Indonesia. I was struck by their daring resourcefulness and ethos of collective care taking—both of families back in Indonesia and of friends and fellow workers in Hong Kong—all of whom are far from home.

California shares a large volume of domestic workers from Central America, most of whom send thousands of dollars across the border via various money transfer services to families and communities. This intricate care labor system happens all over the world and connects employer families to migrant workers, to extended families in the migrant workers’ home country, creating an elaborate global network of financial and emotional ties. Feelings of love, care and compassion as well as resentments, frustration and helplessness manifest in abusive situations as much as connective and generous outcomes.

The backdrops and temporary photo studios were run by migrant workers who come over the border from Shenzhen for the day to make money taking photo portraits, with most customers being domestic workers who spend their Sunday in the park. In one of the images four young women stand in front of a backdrop of a nightscape, likely the Bay Bridge in California. Much of the architecture in the backdrops resembles California style suburban track homes--and generally hybrid aesthetics that show some facet of American influence as well as Chinese suburban architecture.

A maze of insignia are visible in the images: an image of two women who wear shirts with Playboy logos, another a black baseball cap with a Popeye’s Fried Chicken logo, and a fourth in a Cockfight T-shirt. Popular in Southeast Asia and the Philippines, cockfighting has roots going back to animist religious beliefs. Outlawed in the early 80’s in Indonesia, but still popular in the Philippines, cockfighting in some contexts has meant continued adherence to indigenous spiritual practices, instead of just colonial Catholic ones.

This mix of brands and aesthetic references reveals a circuitous route of global trade and brand transformation across borders, communities and cultures with local meanings and interpretations—something far more complex then any straight forward importation of Western values.






各种的布景和临时摄影工作室都依靠着从深圳出境的外来务工者方得以运作下去。他们通过一整日的人物肖像拍摄来挣钱,而他们的顾客则是文章开始时所提到的那些会把休息日时间全消磨在各个公园的在港印尼籍外佣。在诸多照片之中,我发现了一张四位年轻女子的合影,照片的背景幕布,是一副类似于加州海湾大桥(Bay Bridge)夜景的景象。摄影工作室的大多背景幕布上的景象都有着相似的风格,例如加州风格的乡间小屋,亦或是一种“混血”的审美情调。美国而非其他国家,为这种审美情调注入了最强有力的血液。这在中国城郊的建筑风格上也颇有体现。这四位年轻的女子中,两位身着着印有花花公子(Playboy)标识的衬衫,一人戴着有大力水手炸鸡快餐连锁店(Popeye’s Fried Chicken)标识的棒球帽,还有一位穿着件印有斗鸡图案的T恤。斗鸡这项可以说是源自万物有灵论的活动,在东南亚一带,特别是在菲律宾极其盛行。在80年代的印尼,斗鸡因为在某种程度上被认为是当地土著在精神层面取代殖民天主教的坚持和实践所在而遭到取缔。