I’ll Keep Merapi’s Lava Away from the People

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Sundari keeps the lava from the active, smoking Merapi volcano in Java, Indonesia at bay. The volcano’s gas explosion killed 43 people in 1994. All of the women in this video have been waiting in the agency for one year for job placement. The video is staged in the room where migrant temporary workers spend the night on mats before being transported as a group to factories in Malaysia; a work-force this particular agency also supplies, in addition to live-in domestic workers.

The Readymaids videos were produced collaboratively with women inside a maid-training agency in Java, Indonesia before being placed with a family in Taiwan. All participation was voluntary. Many of the women in the videos had been waiting for placement with a family abroad for a year, often bored, thus making videos and photos became something “to do,” a way to play together. Videos are inspired by fantasies, desires or important memories. The women came up with the staging ideas of the works collaboratively and on their own. Women were paid for their participation. Many women in this industry become lesbians. Some videos explore the homoerotics of the training process.

Supported by a grant from art matters, NYC

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