The Hebrew title of this exhibition, “Boker Ba La‘Avodah” is a line from a pioneer song expressing the dream of the builders of the country and the picture of the future that they hoped for. The exhibition examines how the concept of “work” has changed over the years. The pioneering spirit of the Halutzim is now a thing of the past. Agriculture and construction, which used to be emblems of “Hebrew Labor” are now entrusted to foreign workers; the hands that toil in sanitation and caregiving belong to the “transparent” population who live on the fringes of Israeli society. The number of migrant workers in Israel is over 100,000, plus about 16,000 who are here illegally.
Every year the number grows. They come here for a limited period in order to improve the economic situation of the family members they left behind, and hoping to extend their stay in the country as long as possible. In spite of all the difficulties they face, many of them maintain the community life and culture of their countries of origin, coming together to create a joint identity which fortifies them.
The exhibition How it works presents in photographs and video works those engaged in hard labor from the point of view of Israeli photographers and artists on the one hand, and on the other hand presents a Photo voice project filmed by migrant workers expressing how Israel appears from their point of view. Thus the exhibition displays both sides of the complex reality.
Eli Atias’ photos depict Chinese workers digging the Carmel Tunnels and migrant workers acting as beekeepers at Kibbutz Ein Harod and working with elephants at the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem; Shay Aloni exhibits joint portraits of migrant workers employed as caregivers together with their employers; and Yaniv Nadav exhibits portraits of agricultural workers preserving the traditions and customs of their home countries.
Eyal Landesman’s video work Home for me is freedom, includes interviews with migrant workers telling what “home” means for them; Luciana Kaplun’s video work Gilda begins by resembling a documentary depicting the daily routine of sanitation workers from Latin America, but as it develops it becomes a surrealist fantasy.
The photographers Sharon Austria, Analyze Silva, Jerick Millanar, Mark Miguel and Rommel Pineda, migrant workers from the Philippines, took part in the Photo voice project, in partnership with the “Ahoti movement – For women in Israel”. The project spotlights the position of migrant workers in the Israeli landscape and presents their viewpoint on the place where we all live.