Ghost Workers (2017-ongoing)
The neoliberal process in China has spanned the last four decades, bringing tremendous changes to society — including the massive employment layoff (xiagang) that involved at least 70 million state-owned enterprise (SOE) workers. The workers lost their “iron rice bowl” jobs, and the attendant social, economic and political life that the government had tacitly promised them under the all-encompassing work unit (danwei) system.
This nostalgic project invited laid-off workers in Tianjin to act out their old jobs at the site of their former factories. It is dedicated to specters like my parents, with the hope of keeping a piece of tangible reminders of the Chinese laid-off workers’ collective memory and individual humanity.