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Laboring at home and abroad

In Migrants for Export (University of Minnesota Press, 2010), sociologist Robyn Magalit Rodriguez defines the Philippines as a “labor brokerage state”: a country “which actively prepares, mobilizes, and regulates its citizens for migrant work abroad.” This orientation by the Philippines state fundamentally shapes the lives of Filipinos everywhere. At home, the state’s focus on exporting labor manifests in a failure to cultivate the domestic economy, rendering the lives of Filipinos in the Philippines precarious and monetarily impoverished. Abroad, the state’s willingness to facilitate Filipinos’ migrant work and simultaneous inability to guarantee any protections renders Filipinos globally dispersed and vulnerable, exposing Filipinos abroad to enormous exploitation and abuse.

Images of participants, work samples, and black market commerce

Stephanie Syjuco

2006 - 2015 Photograph of crochet project Courtesy of the artist From "The Counterfeit Crochet Project (Critique of a Political Economy)

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Stephanie Syjuco

b. 1974
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Stephanie Syjuco creates large-scale spectacles of collected cultural objects, cumulative archives, and temporary vending installations, often with an active public component that invites viewers to directly participate as producers or distributors. Working primarily in sculpture and installation, her projects leverage open-source systems, shareware logic, and flows of capital, creating frictions between high ideals and everyday materials. This has included starting a global collaborative project with crochet crafters to counterfeit high-end consumer goods; presenting a parasitic art counterfeiting event, "COPYSTAND: An Autonomous Manufacturing Zone" for Frieze Projects, London (2009); and “Shadowshop,” an alternative vending outlet embedded at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art exploring the ways in which artists are navigating the production, consumption, and dissemination of their work (2010-11). A recent collaboration with the  FLACC Workplace for Visual Artists in Genk, Belgium, involved 3-D scanning of Belgian and Congolese antiquities to produce hybrid ceramic objects addressing the legacy of colonialism, empire, and trade routes.
 
Born in the Philippines, she received her M.F.A. from Stanford University and B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a 2014 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship Award and a 2009 Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Award. Her work has been included in exhibitions at Museum of Modern Art PS1 In New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The 12th Havana Biennale, The Bucharest Biennale, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, ZKM Center for Art and Technology, Germany; Z33 Space for Contemporary Art, Belgium; Universal Studios Gallery Beijing; and the California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, among others. She is an Assistant Professor in Sculpture at the University of California, Berkeley, and lives and works in San Francisco.

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  • Born: The Philippines
  • Based: San Francisco, CA, USA

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Downloadable PDF tip sheets on how to create counterfeit looks

Stephanie Syjuco

2006 - 2015 PDF document Photo by Otto von Busch Courtesy of the artist Counterfeiting workshops at Garanti Gallery, Istanbul, 2007 From "The Counterfeit Crochet Project (Critique of a Political Economy)"

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Stephanie Syjuco

b. 1974
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Stephanie Syjuco creates large-scale spectacles of collected cultural objects, cumulative archives, and temporary vending installations, often with an active public component that invites viewers to directly participate as producers or distributors. Working primarily in sculpture and installation, her projects leverage open-source systems, shareware logic, and flows of capital, creating frictions between high ideals and everyday materials. This has included starting a global collaborative project with crochet crafters to counterfeit high-end consumer goods; presenting a parasitic art counterfeiting event, "COPYSTAND: An Autonomous Manufacturing Zone" for Frieze Projects, London (2009); and “Shadowshop,” an alternative vending outlet embedded at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art exploring the ways in which artists are navigating the production, consumption, and dissemination of their work (2010-11). A recent collaboration with the  FLACC Workplace for Visual Artists in Genk, Belgium, involved 3-D scanning of Belgian and Congolese antiquities to produce hybrid ceramic objects addressing the legacy of colonialism, empire, and trade routes.
 
Born in the Philippines, she received her M.F.A. from Stanford University and B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a 2014 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship Award and a 2009 Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Award. Her work has been included in exhibitions at Museum of Modern Art PS1 In New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The 12th Havana Biennale, The Bucharest Biennale, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, ZKM Center for Art and Technology, Germany; Z33 Space for Contemporary Art, Belgium; Universal Studios Gallery Beijing; and the California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, among others. She is an Assistant Professor in Sculpture at the University of California, Berkeley, and lives and works in San Francisco.

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  • Born: The Philippines
  • Based: San Francisco, CA, USA

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Louis Vuitton Murakami Papillon Bag (detail)

Stephanie Syjuco

2006 - 2015 Photograph of crochet project Courtesy of the artist From "The Counterfeit Crochet Project (Critique of a Political Economy) Created by Katie Furuyama, Tokyo, Japan (2008)

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Stephanie Syjuco

b. 1974
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Stephanie Syjuco creates large-scale spectacles of collected cultural objects, cumulative archives, and temporary vending installations, often with an active public component that invites viewers to directly participate as producers or distributors. Working primarily in sculpture and installation, her projects leverage open-source systems, shareware logic, and flows of capital, creating frictions between high ideals and everyday materials. This has included starting a global collaborative project with crochet crafters to counterfeit high-end consumer goods; presenting a parasitic art counterfeiting event, "COPYSTAND: An Autonomous Manufacturing Zone" for Frieze Projects, London (2009); and “Shadowshop,” an alternative vending outlet embedded at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art exploring the ways in which artists are navigating the production, consumption, and dissemination of their work (2010-11). A recent collaboration with the  FLACC Workplace for Visual Artists in Genk, Belgium, involved 3-D scanning of Belgian and Congolese antiquities to produce hybrid ceramic objects addressing the legacy of colonialism, empire, and trade routes.
 
Born in the Philippines, she received her M.F.A. from Stanford University and B.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a 2014 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship Award and a 2009 Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Award. Her work has been included in exhibitions at Museum of Modern Art PS1 In New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The 12th Havana Biennale, The Bucharest Biennale, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, ZKM Center for Art and Technology, Germany; Z33 Space for Contemporary Art, Belgium; Universal Studios Gallery Beijing; and the California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, among others. She is an Assistant Professor in Sculpture at the University of California, Berkeley, and lives and works in San Francisco.

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  • Born: The Philippines
  • Based: San Francisco, CA, USA

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Sewing Station

Kiam Marcelo Junio

2013 Video documentation of performance art Duration: 5 min. Courtesy of the artist

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Kiam Marcelo Junio

b. 1984
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Kiam Marcelo Junio is a Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist working across media, from dance and performance to sculpture, installation, photography, and writing. Their research and art work center around queer identity, Philippine history and the Filipino diaspora, Western imperialism, and personal and collective healing through collaborative projects and individual self-work. Kiam served seven years in the US Navy as a Hospital Corpsman. Their work has been exhibited, screened, and performed throughout Chicago at Boyfriends, Defibrillator, Links Hall, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Bijou Theater, and the Field Museum, as well as in New York City, NY; Riverside, CA; Mexico City, Mexico; Cadiz, Spain; and Montreal, Canada. They were born in the Philippines and have lived in the US, Japan, and Spain.

The role of the artist, the magician, the prophet, and each individual, is to bring about change in the world through one's own personal transformations, revolutions, and revelations.

As an artist who is also a person of color, an Asian American, a Filipino immigrant, a US Navy veteran, gender-fluid, and decidedly queer, my work exists within these contexts but is not bound by them. I use a multidisciplinary approach in my research and art making. I develop a conceptual ecosystem in which my works function in myriad ways, informing one another. I create photos, installations, videos, and performances. I work collaboratively with local artists, dancers, musicians, and organizers. I foster relationships within my communities and relish in our blossoming. By working with others, we come to know and become more ourselves.

I look towards the future and feel its inertia - the momentum that propels us into infinite uncharted moments, carrying the past forward

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  • Born: Quezon City, Philippines
  • Based: Chicago, IL, USA

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Sewing Station (detail)

Kiam Marcelo Junio

2013 Photographic documentation of performance art Courtesy of the artist

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Kiam Marcelo Junio

b. 1984
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Kiam Marcelo Junio is a Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist working across media, from dance and performance to sculpture, installation, photography, and writing. Their research and art work center around queer identity, Philippine history and the Filipino diaspora, Western imperialism, and personal and collective healing through collaborative projects and individual self-work. Kiam served seven years in the US Navy as a Hospital Corpsman. Their work has been exhibited, screened, and performed throughout Chicago at Boyfriends, Defibrillator, Links Hall, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Bijou Theater, and the Field Museum, as well as in New York City, NY; Riverside, CA; Mexico City, Mexico; Cadiz, Spain; and Montreal, Canada. They were born in the Philippines and have lived in the US, Japan, and Spain.

The role of the artist, the magician, the prophet, and each individual, is to bring about change in the world through one's own personal transformations, revolutions, and revelations.

As an artist who is also a person of color, an Asian American, a Filipino immigrant, a US Navy veteran, gender-fluid, and decidedly queer, my work exists within these contexts but is not bound by them. I use a multidisciplinary approach in my research and art making. I develop a conceptual ecosystem in which my works function in myriad ways, informing one another. I create photos, installations, videos, and performances. I work collaboratively with local artists, dancers, musicians, and organizers. I foster relationships within my communities and relish in our blossoming. By working with others, we come to know and become more ourselves.

I look towards the future and feel its inertia - the momentum that propels us into infinite uncharted moments, carrying the past forward

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  • Born: Quezon City, Philippines
  • Based: Chicago, IL, USA

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A Mend: A Collection of Scraps from Local Seamstresses and Tailors (Chicago)

Aram Han Sifuentes

2011 - 2013 Jean scraps and gold denim thread 14 ft. x 10 ft. x 4 ft. Courtesy of the artist Photo credit: Hyounsang Yoo

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Aram Han Sifuentes

b. 1986
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Aram Han Sifuentes is a social practice fiber artist and works closely with Chicago-based non-profit organizations, community centers, and public schools to facilitate workshops for immigrant communities. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally. Her solo exhibitions include “A Mend” at Hollister Gallery in Wellesley, MA, and “73,000 waiting” at Chicago Artists Coalition in Chicago, IL in October 2015. Her workshops include “Immigrant Takeover” at the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design in Ashville, NC, and “US Citizenship Test Sampler” at the Smithsonian Institution. She is a City of Chicago DCASE grant and Puffin Foundation Ltd grant recipient. Han earned her B.A. in Art and Latin American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley in 2008, and her M.F.A. in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013. She is currently a Lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Sewing is a time-based practice. Fiber as a medium speaks a language of accessibility, intimacy, and time. From its inception, it has been touched. To sew, the hand, armed with a needle, pierces the cloth, pulls the needle up, pierces the cloth, and pulls the needle down. Each sewn thread creates an indexical line of invested time, gesture, and rhythm. As an artist I use this needle and thread to mine from my experiences as an immigrant to address issues of labor and identity politics. I try to unpack these complex labor and immigrant histories by engaging with people through long term projects utilizing varied social practices. At the root, is a research-based practice revolved around collecting materials: oral histories, data, commissioned artifacts, handmade objects, and remnants of handwork. I then invest in the materials with my own hands with time and labor in order to create large-scale installations and meticulously labor intensive works. However, being about invisible and Sisyphean labor, my works rarely suggest finality. The needle is a political tool. It pierces and binds membranes together. The thread that it steers is tied off and remains while the needle continues to bind and mend. In my art practice, I use that needle to stitch together various histories and discourses revolving around the simple act of sewing. However, this act is anything but uncomplicated. The creation of each stitch engages sewing’s complex histories and politics of traditional, industrial, feminist, immigrant, and artist labor.

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  • Born: Seoul, South Korea
  • Based: Chicago, IL, USA

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A Mend: A Collection of Scraps from Local Seamstresses and Tailors (Chicago)

Aram Han Sifuentes

2011 - 2013 Jean scraps and gold denim thread 14 ft. x 10 ft. x 4 ft. Courtesy of the artist Photo credit: Hyounsang Yoo

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Aram Han Sifuentes

b. 1986
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Aram Han Sifuentes is a social practice fiber artist and works closely with Chicago-based non-profit organizations, community centers, and public schools to facilitate workshops for immigrant communities. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally. Her solo exhibitions include “A Mend” at Hollister Gallery in Wellesley, MA, and “73,000 waiting” at Chicago Artists Coalition in Chicago, IL in October 2015. Her workshops include “Immigrant Takeover” at the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design in Ashville, NC, and “US Citizenship Test Sampler” at the Smithsonian Institution. She is a City of Chicago DCASE grant and Puffin Foundation Ltd grant recipient. Han earned her B.A. in Art and Latin American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley in 2008, and her M.F.A. in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013. She is currently a Lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Sewing is a time-based practice. Fiber as a medium speaks a language of accessibility, intimacy, and time. From its inception, it has been touched. To sew, the hand, armed with a needle, pierces the cloth, pulls the needle up, pierces the cloth, and pulls the needle down. Each sewn thread creates an indexical line of invested time, gesture, and rhythm. As an artist I use this needle and thread to mine from my experiences as an immigrant to address issues of labor and identity politics. I try to unpack these complex labor and immigrant histories by engaging with people through long term projects utilizing varied social practices. At the root, is a research-based practice revolved around collecting materials: oral histories, data, commissioned artifacts, handmade objects, and remnants of handwork. I then invest in the materials with my own hands with time and labor in order to create large-scale installations and meticulously labor intensive works. However, being about invisible and Sisyphean labor, my works rarely suggest finality. The needle is a political tool. It pierces and binds membranes together. The thread that it steers is tied off and remains while the needle continues to bind and mend. In my art practice, I use that needle to stitch together various histories and discourses revolving around the simple act of sewing. However, this act is anything but uncomplicated. The creation of each stitch engages sewing’s complex histories and politics of traditional, industrial, feminist, immigrant, and artist labor.

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  • Born: Seoul, South Korea
  • Based: Chicago, IL, USA

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A Mend: A Collection of Scraps from Local Seamstresses and Tailors (Chicago)

Aram Han Sifuentes

2011 - 2013 Jean scraps and gold denim thread 14 ft. x 10 ft. x 4 ft. Courtesy of the artist Photo credit: Hyounsang Yoo

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X

Aram Han Sifuentes

b. 1986
image description
  • See All Works
  • visit website

Aram Han Sifuentes is a social practice fiber artist and works closely with Chicago-based non-profit organizations, community centers, and public schools to facilitate workshops for immigrant communities. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally. Her solo exhibitions include “A Mend” at Hollister Gallery in Wellesley, MA, and “73,000 waiting” at Chicago Artists Coalition in Chicago, IL in October 2015. Her workshops include “Immigrant Takeover” at the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design in Ashville, NC, and “US Citizenship Test Sampler” at the Smithsonian Institution. She is a City of Chicago DCASE grant and Puffin Foundation Ltd grant recipient. Han earned her B.A. in Art and Latin American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley in 2008, and her M.F.A. in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013. She is currently a Lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Sewing is a time-based practice. Fiber as a medium speaks a language of accessibility, intimacy, and time. From its inception, it has been touched. To sew, the hand, armed with a needle, pierces the cloth, pulls the needle up, pierces the cloth, and pulls the needle down. Each sewn thread creates an indexical line of invested time, gesture, and rhythm. As an artist I use this needle and thread to mine from my experiences as an immigrant to address issues of labor and identity politics. I try to unpack these complex labor and immigrant histories by engaging with people through long term projects utilizing varied social practices. At the root, is a research-based practice revolved around collecting materials: oral histories, data, commissioned artifacts, handmade objects, and remnants of handwork. I then invest in the materials with my own hands with time and labor in order to create large-scale installations and meticulously labor intensive works. However, being about invisible and Sisyphean labor, my works rarely suggest finality. The needle is a political tool. It pierces and binds membranes together. The thread that it steers is tied off and remains while the needle continues to bind and mend. In my art practice, I use that needle to stitch together various histories and discourses revolving around the simple act of sewing. However, this act is anything but uncomplicated. The creation of each stitch engages sewing’s complex histories and politics of traditional, industrial, feminist, immigrant, and artist labor.

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  • Born: Seoul, South Korea
  • Based: Chicago, IL, USA

comments

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contributor

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Aram Han Sifuentes

b. 1986
image description
  • See All Works
  • visit website

Aram Han Sifuentes is a social practice fiber artist and works closely with Chicago-based non-profit organizations, community centers, and public schools to facilitate workshops for immigrant communities. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally. Her solo exhibitions include “A Mend” at Hollister Gallery in Wellesley, MA, and “73,000 waiting” at Chicago Artists Coalition in Chicago, IL in October 2015. Her workshops include “Immigrant Takeover” at the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design in Ashville, NC, and “US Citizenship Test Sampler” at the Smithsonian Institution. She is a City of Chicago DCASE grant and Puffin Foundation Ltd grant recipient. Han earned her B.A. in Art and Latin American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley in 2008, and her M.F.A. in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013. She is currently a Lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Sewing is a time-based practice. Fiber as a medium speaks a language of accessibility, intimacy, and time. From its inception, it has been touched. To sew, the hand, armed with a needle, pierces the cloth, pulls the needle up, pierces the cloth, and pulls the needle down. Each sewn thread creates an indexical line of invested time, gesture, and rhythm. As an artist I use this needle and thread to mine from my experiences as an immigrant to address issues of labor and identity politics. I try to unpack these complex labor and immigrant histories by engaging with people through long term projects utilizing varied social practices. At the root, is a research-based practice revolved around collecting materials: oral histories, data, commissioned artifacts, handmade objects, and remnants of handwork. I then invest in the materials with my own hands with time and labor in order to create large-scale installations and meticulously labor intensive works. However, being about invisible and Sisyphean labor, my works rarely suggest finality. The needle is a political tool. It pierces and binds membranes together. The thread that it steers is tied off and remains while the needle continues to bind and mend. In my art practice, I use that needle to stitch together various histories and discourses revolving around the simple act of sewing. However, this act is anything but uncomplicated. The creation of each stitch engages sewing’s complex histories and politics of traditional, industrial, feminist, immigrant, and artist labor.

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X
  • Born: Seoul, South Korea
  • Based: Chicago, IL, USA

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Kristina Wong

b. 1978
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Kristina Wong is a third generation Chinese American, born in San Francisco and living in Los Angeles. Her work encompasses original solo performances, comedy, personal essays, acting, short films and textile work. She was recently featured in the New York Times’ "Off Color" series that “highlight[ed] artists of color who use humor to make smart social statements about the sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious ways that race plays out in America today.” She has created five solo shows and one ensemble play that have toured throughout the United States and the United Kingdom. Her longest running touring show, Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, looked at the high rates of depression and suicide among Asian American women and toured to over 40 venues since 2006. It’s now a broadcast quality film distributed by Cinema Libre Studios. Kristina’s been a commentator for American Public Media’s Marketplace, PBS, Jezebel, xoJane, Playgirl Magazine, Huffington Post, CNN and a guest on Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” and FXX’s “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.” Her work has been awarded with grants from Creative Capital, The Map Fund, Center for Cultural Innovation, the Durfee Foundation, National Performance Network, five Artist-in-Residence grants from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, and a residency from the MacDowell Colony. Kristina has twice given the commencement speech at the University of California, Los Angeles, her alma mater. She graduated with double degrees in English and World Arts and Cultures with a minor in Asian American Studies. She is also trained as an actor at the Steven Book Studios and improvisation at the Upright Citizens Brigade. Television credits include General Hospital, Nickelodeon’s “Nicky Ricky Dicky and Dawn,” and Myx TV’s “I’m Asian American and Want Reparations for Yellow Fever.” This Fall, she is a guest professor at California Institute for the Arts in the M.F.A. Creative Writing Program. Her mail order bride site is www.bigbadchinesemama.com.

I believe that as an artist, my job is not to “fix” the wrongs of the world with easy answers, but instead, to further complicate the question by making the invisible visible, and hopefully, creating some space for public discourse. I would describe my aesthetic at its best as subversive, humorous, and endearingly inappropriate. My non-traditional, multi-disciplinary approach logically mirrors my own multi-layered identity that has been influenced by innumerous cultures, religions, political thinking, technology and post-modern performance art. My nebulous identity continues to shift within the communities I live, evolve and interact with. I see my performance work as a humorous and ephemeral response to the invisible and visible boundaries that shape my world, rather than a hermetic declaration of my identity. I’m interested in guerilla performance as culture jamming– creating performances that subvert the use of space not intended for “performance.” I experiment with interactive, improvisational performance that blurs the roles of “artist” and “audience”— recasting unsuspecting bystanders as co-stars to my performance personas -– unearthing the masks, disguises and performances hidden in the most mundane of daily life. I adore “culture jammers.” Some of my favorites are the street interventions of Michael Moore, the “identity corrections” of the Yes Men, and the feminists who crashed television beauty pageants when I was growing up. Their performances are disguised within daily life to subvert, manipulate, and explode the status quo. I also appreciate the simplicity and elegance of interactive work like Yoko Ono’s. Much of my own guerilla theater work similarly offers social commentary and bypasses theaters and galleries—staged on the internet or alternative spaces. My theater work is informed by my site specific performance sensibilities. In my theater work, I challenge my relationship as a performer to my audience. I also confront the expectations of my genre and my subject matter within the work. My stage performance work differs from the Eurocentric theater traditions of 19th and 20th Century American Realism where actors apply “realistic” emotions to pre-written scripts. I see my “characters” as archetypal extensions of my own persona. I almost always break the fourth wall and let my audiences inform the direction of the show. My creation process is very organic. Some of my shows are living ritual exercises with the audience. I find that pre-scripting my work line-by-line at my computer and then rehearsing emotion into those lines is a very confining process. I prefer to generate lists of ideas and doodles, talk them out with trusted collaborators, improvise with a mix of media during rehearsals and then string up the best moments in a logical (or illogically logical) order for public performance. Some of my scripts actually look like a set list that a stand-up comic would use.

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  • Born: San Francisco, CA, USA
  • Based: Los Angeles, CA, USA

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