On Being A Factory Worker is an exhibition designed for Anderson Gallery in Richmond, VA. Chinese factory workers play a critical role in the global economy. Many of them have left homes in rural areas in China and moved to rural-urban fringes in search of temporary jobs at factories. Their living and working environment is a chaotic yet colorful gathering of neon signs, government slogans, factory job postings, cheap eateries and lodgings, lottery shops, and other visual/social elements that constitute their quasi-urban life. The exhibition aims to bring forward the disordered but lively visual landscape surrounding Chinese factory workers.
This exhibition is designed to be "anti-designed" through a vibrant clashing color palette, and a joyful, messy, and overloaded usage of typography. It is both a tribute to and documentation of labor.
An essential part of this project is a two-way mirror that reflects the prints from the wall, while simultaneously displaying a video about high-end products made in China. The two-way mirror further reveals the socio-economic disparities between production and consumption. Looking into the mirror, the viewers would also see themselves reflected in the artwork.
The designer and several production members worked together to wheat-paste nearly a thousand pieces of tabloid and letter-sized paper onto the gallery wall from floor to ceiling, while intentionally leaving the tools used in the production on site. Several rounds of measurements and testings of paper, adhesives, and mirrors were conducted throughout the making. Together we created an art piece that is spectacular in scale and striking in design.
More than 500 visitors participated in the exhibition in 2019. This project serves its goal to reveal the socio-economic disparities between production and consumption, and it invites the viewers to see the similarities and differences between them and factory workers in China.