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Readymaids

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.

 

 

 准备女佣

这些图片拍摄的是一些身处香港的印尼籍外佣,她们中的多数被认为是女性同性恋、跨性别者或者是和女同性恋者存在直接的关系人。在同这些来自香港印尼移工工会的妇女一起工作时,我接触到几位有兴趣参与到我的拍摄中来的印尼籍女佣。她们抱着各自的理由来到离家2000多英里外的陌生城市,或是为了能挣到远在家中的弟弟或妹妹的学费,或是为了应付家中昂贵的医疗费用,或者只是为了能够存到一些钱,以使回国后自己能成立家庭开始一种新的生活。无疑,这些年轻女性的勇敢,智慧和在她们身上集中体现出的对家庭照顾的民族观念无一不让我感到震撼。必须强调的是,我所指的她们,不仅包括这些现在与我成为朋友的女佣以及她们的同事,也包括了现在已经返乡的曾经在这里工作过的印尼籍外佣们——所有远离家乡的她们。

加州享用着大量源自中美洲国家劳工的贡献。他们中的绝大多数都会通过各种形式的汇兑服务将大笔的薪资汇出境外,汇给自己的家人和群落。这种复杂的外佣劳力体系出现在全世界的不同角落,并通过其自身的特点将外佣家庭和跨国务工人员相联结,并使得劳力输出国国内相关家庭得以延展,创造出一个在财政和心绪上都有连结的详尽且细致的全球性网络。在这种离家务工的环境中,爱、关心、怜悯和愤怒、沮丧、绝望等等情绪也随着丰厚的收入及工作中的存在感相伴而来。

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。

这种在品牌和建筑表现上的融合混搭昭示了一种在国际贸易、品牌全球化、群落融合以及跨文化传播中外来文化本土化的迂回曲折路径——这其中蕴含着一些远比任何直接引入西方文化价值观所更为复杂的存在。