Blue Lotus Gallery is pleased to host an intimate book talk and signing session with Xyza Cruz Bacani whose recent book project WE ARE LIKE AIR published by WE Press not only marks the next step in her personal journey as a photographer but even more importantly confronts the harsh reality of economic migration through her own personal life experience. The core of the book is about her mother Georgia; who as a Filipino domestic worker, was trafficked and mistreated in Singapore before she ran away and found a safe haven with Ms. Louey; a generous and kind employer in Hong Kong who she served for the past 20 years.
This is a story about love. It visually portrays the parallel lives lived by her mother in Hong Kong and father in the Philippines and how their relationship dealt with a life time of separation. In addition this book sheds light onto the lives and challenges of many other migrant workers. These are but a few stories from the 370,000 foreign domestic workers who live and work in Hong Kong, 10% of Hong Kong’s workforce. The average salary is a meagre $4,520 a month, yet still double or triple what they could earn in their respective countries. ‘Without the ‘helpers Hong Kong would cease to function.’ Xyza further explains; ‘Ninety nine per cent of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong are female. They are someone’s mother, daughter or wife. Not only do they take care of their own and their Hong Kong families, they also made invaluable contributions to the economic development of Hong Kong, freeing up local women to join the workforce. They are like an invisible hand supporting the Hong Kong economy.” This is where the title WE ARE LIKE AIR finds its meaning; the invisible yet necessary part of a society. Bacani is a street photographer with a promising past and future, this book project establishes her as a force to be reckoned with as a visual story teller.
Xyza Cruz Bacani (born 1987) is a Filipino street photographer and documentary photographer. She is known for her black-and-white photographs of Hong Kong and documentary projects about migration and the intersections of labor and human rights. She is one of the Magnum Foundation's Human Rights Fellows and is the recipient of a resolution passed by the Philippines House of Representatives in her honor, HR No. 1969. Xyza is one of the BBC’s 100 Women of the World 2015, 30 Under 30 Women Photographers 2016, Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2016, and a Fujifilm Ambassador.
She is the recipient of grants from Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting 2016, WMA Commission 2017 and part of Open Society Foundations Moving Walls 24. Bacani grew up in Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya, the eldest of three children. She studied nursing before leaving the Philippines to raise funds for the education of her siblings. At the age of 19, she joined her mother in Hong Kong, working as a nanny for an affluent family in the Mid-Levels. Bacani started taking casual photographs after purchasing her first digital single-lens reflex camera with a loan from her employer. Her interest in photography developed while she was still in college, but she was unable to afford her own camera at the time. She is now a full time photographer working on various under reported projects around the world. Among her various street photography images of Hong Kong society, she has covered the 2014 Hong Kong protests in Central and documented the lives of other domestic helpers at Bethune House Migrant Women's Refuge in Jordan, Hong Kong. Her work has drawn comparisons to those taken by American street photographer Vivian Maier, who had also worked as a nanny; however, Bacani dismisses the comparison, wanting her work to stand on its own.