Each year the Home Office issues approximately 19,000 visas under its Domestic Workers in Private Households scheme, which allows foreign families to bring domestic workers to the UK.
Migrant domestic workers (MDWs) live and work in environments where class relations are often enmeshed with gendered and racialised structures of oppression. They experience greater exploitation than workers in most other occupations. They are subject to long working hours and are often paid below the minimum wage. They also face verbal, physical and sexual abuse.
The problems of MDWs are compounded by their legal precarity, since the government introduced restrictions in 2012, which removed the right to renew their visas. MDWs face difficulties in articulating their social and political will and struggle to participate in public forums.
Joyce Jiang used participatory art to support the voice of MDWs. Her project explores how art practices can undermine dominant structures and challenge cultures which impair the lives of migrant women workers through sexualisation, racism and labour exploitation.
In collaboration with The Voice of Domestic Workers (a grassroots campaigning and advocacy organisation in London), and a filmmaker from Goldsmiths, she ran a 12-week series of participatory video workshops for 12 MDWs. Together they produced a film, which offers a glimpse into the everyday work and life of MDWs.
The co-produced film Our Journey was screened alongside a self-curated exhibition of the artefacts from the lives of MDWs: family photographs, letters from children back home, employment contracts and work uniforms.