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Each year an average of 86,000 women leave the Philippines, joining more than ten million overseas Filipinas — many of them domestic laborers. Raising other people’s children and providing care to the elderly, these workers are indispensable to the families they serve and yet invisible to larger society.

Esy Casey seeks to bring visibility to these workers through a video installation. In a dimly lit gallery, muted spotlights will illuminate floor-to-ceiling piles of folded clothing and stacked dishes — the size of the piles representing the average number of clothes folded and dishes cleaned by a worker in one month, six months, one year, whatever fills the space of the exhibition space. Projected onto the piles will be video footage of the repetitive acts of domestic work. Other elements will include the repetitive sound of these movements and video and audio interviews with the women. When the piece is dismantled, the clothing and dishes (supplied by the community and local thrift stores) will be distributed to people in need.

Since 1973, Filipino Advocates for Justice has advocated for immigrant, worker, and civil rights, helping vulnerable community members navigate the challenges of life in the United States. In its organizing work, it uses storytelling and art to communicate caregivers’ experiences.

Esy Casey, an independent filmmaker, director, producer, and cinematographer for 15 years, made her directorial debut with JEEPNEY, which premiered on PBS in 2015. This collaborative installation was scheduled to open at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center on June 16, 2020, Global International Domestic Workers Day, but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Casey also hopes to tour it.

Photo by Esy Casey