Foam is proud to present the first museum solo exhibition of the German-American artist Rebecca Sampson (1984). Her work 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.
While on a visit to Hong Kong in 2013, Sampson observed how hundreds of labour migrants – homeless for one day – spent their Sundays in the parks and public spaces of the city. The photographer spent many Sundays with them and gradually got to know them. The portraits made by Sampson and by the domestic workers themselves form a sharp contrast with the exemplary passport photos attached to their application forms, which Sampson was able to obtain by pretending to be a potential employer. These documents – for which the women pay steep fees to private brokers – reveal gross deficiencies in the local labour law. The artist juxtaposed the photographs provided by the agency – obediently smiling ladies wearing an apron with the text ‘Apples for Sale’ – with the images posted by these workers on social media. The discrepancy between the constructed typology of the model housekeeper, and images of their desperate attempts to escape from their dreary everyday life, begs the question which of the two images is furthest removed from reality.