Women in Film & Photography 2023 Exhibition
Live-in (Mattress provided) | GERALDINE KANG

Live-in (Mattress provided) is my photographic and textual response to the act of hiring live-in migrant domestic workers (MDW) in Singapore. Early stages of the project were spurred by the live-in rule which mandates that all MDW live with their employer throughout their stay. The rule is sometimes criticised for conflating living and working spaces for the worker, which leaves her vulnerable to various types of exploitation and isolation. The present system leaves little recourse to women who struggle with adapting to a new environment alone, or who chance upon abusive or oppressive employers.

To spark a larger conversation about these helpers’ complex role and presence in our homes, I have drawn visual focus solely towards their beds/mattresses and the immediate area around them. This serves as an entry point beyond closed doors, while avoiding obvious and superficial indexing of identities to space and role. The photos are also crafted in response to existing types of images already in circulation, especially in the realms of advocacy work, documentaries and fictional films.

As the project progressed, I deemed that text was necessary to contextualise the images. The text primarily aims to make my connection with participants and my position as artist more transparent. It reveals the relationships that created this project, as well as other forms of warmth, generosity, and liberty that aren’t indicated in the images. I also hope to offer some reflexivity about my own challenges navigating this terrain and the choices made. Despite the obvious relationship to advocacy, the work’s main driving force is to articulate complex sentiments about living, familial dynamics, care work, and the support systems in place for a country’s residents.

About Geraldine Kang 
Geraldine Kang uses art as a means of introspection, and as a tool to negotiate identities within physical and psychological spaces. She sees art as a platform to express the complexity of difficult topics and issues. Using a mixture of photography, writing, and objects, she creates installations that address a range of topics from family, community, and mental illness, to site-explorations of the undercurrents and ambivalences of familiar places.

Geraldine holds an MFA in Fine Art from the Parsons School of Design (The New School) and has exhibited her work both locally and internationally with solo exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore and NTU CCA Singapore. She has participated in group shows at the ifa Gallery in Berlin and Stuttgart, ONESITE Art Festival in Taiwan and the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum. She was awarded the 2011 Kwek Leng Joo Prize of Excellence in Still Photography and participated in photography platforms such as Kuala Lumpur International Photo Awards, Photographer’s Forum, Px3, the Jimei x Arles International Photography Festival, and the Singapore International Photography Festival. Geraldine is currently a full-time art educator.

For the rest of our Women in Film and Photography 2023 programme, visit here.