Domestic Sector

Domestic Sector

Performative Installation
3 hours
03-03-2023, exhibition until 28-03-2023
Da in die Front Gallery,
Düsseldorf, Germany

The performance portrayed the living circumstances of migrant women workers trapped in precarious living and working conditions and eventually finding themselves in modern slavery situations. This project was realised at the invitation of Matthias Grotevent for his project space “Da in die Front”.


In the exhibition space, the artist has installed fragile wooden walls that define four different rooms. During the performance on the opening evening, one by one, the performers would come from their simulated living quarters to an office where they would snatch a fake phone or passport and jump through the window. If successful, they would return in the exhibition room, through the main entry after leaving the passports and phones outside. If they were not successful they were being caught and dragged back in the living quarters. This action was repeated until there were no passports or fake phones to steal anymore.

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The performative installation depicts the delicate situation in which migrant workers from so-called developing countries often find themselves when moving to economically advanced countries for labour.

In the hope of improving the living conditions of the personas they have assumed for this performance, the three [female] performers accept contracts with a fictitious employment agency. The agency, represented by fourth [male] performer, confiscates the women’s ID cards and mobile phones as collateral.

Over the course of the performance, the three women then move sequentially through the entire exhibition space, where three of the four rooms illustrate possible circumstances experienced by the individual women. After living through these chambers, they re-encounter the representative of the employment agency in his office. Determined to free themselves from this structure, they reach for their documents and valuables and make for the window as a gateway back to their old world.

If the performers succeed in fleeing to their home country, the reality that still prevails there forces them back into the now familiar working environment and the cycle begins anew. If they fail and are instead captured by the agency employee, he returns them to the first chamber. Either way, the women remain trapped in their situation.

Through this repetition, the artist creates a rhythm that depicts a multitude of situations where-
in each individual sequence unfolds differently. When the performance ends, the installation has become a location with a history. The artist has charged the space with issues facing people who have immigrated into countries that are foreign to them: identity, isolation, poverty and the question of, the search for their own space and the crack in the wall that promises escape and salvation.

(“Idea” text: Matthias Grotevent)

The project was supported by Stiftung Kunstfonds, Neustart Kultur and Kulturamt Düsseldorf

Performers: Salmo Albatal, Eunbi Oh, Nadine KarlEmma Rüther


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