26. March 2022 - 06. June 2022
Rebecca Sampson: Apples for Sale
Next guidet tour: Sunday 1 May, 11.30 am

Apples for Sale
© Rebecca Sampson
Far from their homes and families, over 140,000 Indonesian maids work in Hong Kong as second-class migrants under precarious conditions. Long workdays, poor pay, disrespect, and arbitrariness are part of the domestic workers' daily lives. Living in cramped quarters with their employers for years, these women often have no privacy.

The only time the domestic workers can leave this exploitative environment is on their one day off per week. Every Sunday, thousands of Indonesian women flock to the public spaces of Hong Kong to meet with fellow maids in parks or other places. They use those few hours to satisfy their emotional needs for familiarity and closeness. As an expression of a shared cultural identity, Indonesian food and music are important parts of the weekly gatherings.

Many of these women also fulfill their longing for love and partnership in this social environment and enter couple relationships within the community. In doing so, they often reenact the traditional gender roles they know from the very conservative Muslim Indonesian society. Tomboys—women who dress and act masculine—take on the male part. Lovingly prepared dolls replace the missing children. Thus, a space far removed from controlling glances emerges within the community of Indonesian domestic workers, allowing the women to create parallel identities and explore their sexuality in a kind of role play.

German American photographer Rebecca Sampson (*1984) documented all these facets of the lives of Indonesian domestic workers in a multi-layered multimedia narrative. In addition to photography and text, Apples for Sale also features excerpts from the women's social media feeds. With little free time at their disposal, much of their social life takes place in the virtual world of Facebook. Here, individually acting out one’s own personality knows no boundaries.

Opening: Friday, 25 March 2022, 7 p.m.

Curator: Daniela Yvonne Baumann