Esy and I visited the the Jorge B. Vargas museum to see Hong Kong Intervention by Sun Yuan & Peng Yu, a show addressing Filipino overseas foreign workers in Hong Kong.

According to Migrante International, “More than 2,000 migrant Filipinos leave the country each day and approximately one-third of these are composed of unskilled workers. They can be found in 182 countries worldwide.”

Many of these men and women are abused and exploited by their employers and have little resources available to them on foreign soil.

The Filipino government supports this labor migration by charging high fees for workers to seek employment through sanctioned placement centers. In return, the exodus benefits the government by adding large amounts of money to the ever growing stream of remittances flowing into the economy.

To avoid fees, many workers go through non-government sanctioned placement centers and travel abroad with false documents. They are then lost in a system of traded work and potentially harmful situations.

Sun Yuan & Peng Yu gave overseas foreign workers toy grenades to plant in the homes of their employers. The workers then photographed the grenades in chosen settings: kitchen table, amongst stuffed animals, with the family dog, or one of many artifacts on a shelf. Next to these personally altered interiors, hangs the worker’s portrait- back to the camera to conceal their identity. The two photographs capture a beautifully simple and defiant gesture.