Migrant workers trafficked and forced to work on a big fishing boat. We had to work excruciatingly hard, day and night, nonstop, under the control of violent bosses. If there is time for a break, it is only very short. The workers face danger all the time. This boat is in the Malaysian sea. Drawing by PRUM VANNAK.
Different vantage points on the global crisis of human trafficking and modern slavery are presented as part of a month long Washington D.C. awareness campaign.
As part of ArtWorks for Freedom | ACTION DC! Campaign against human trafficking, the Delegation of the European Union, in collaboration with the Embassy of Sweden and ArtWorks for Freedom, presents the exhibition: After the Fact | Borderless Captivity. The exhibition features works of Ann-Sofi Sidén (Sweden) Kay Chernush (USA) and Prum Vannak (Cambodia).
With work spanning continents, the three artists vary in their points of departure, media, how they convey and ultimately engage us in the topic. A Cambodian survivor of modern day slavery shares his story in vivid drawings to help people to understand his experience. An award-winning US photographer captured powerful images of victims on assignment in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and was moved to devote her life to raising awareness of this issue. One of Sweden’s foremost Contemporary artists documented the stories of women trafficked along the borders of Western Europe leading to a series of museum-exhibited video installations and photogravures confronting our fundamental hopes and fears.
Ann-Sofi Sidén (Sweden) The video, "Diary Entries” is one channel of the artist’s seminal work, “Warte Mal!”, 1999 a 13 channel video installation which revolves around the lives of those exposed to eastern european trafficking along the German/Czech border after the Velvet Revolution. Exhibited in major art institutions in Austria, France, Germany and the UK, “Warte Mal!” is in the collections of the Modern Museum of Athens and Moderna Museet, Stockholm. This is the first time a part of the work will be on view in the US. “After the Fact”, 2007, is a series of photogravures based on a 6 channel video installation, “In passing”, in which we follow a young woman who anonymously leaves her baby in a hatch at a Berlin hospital. These works address desperation, fears of abandonment, empathy and fundamentally our value as human beings. Ann-Sofi Sidén is one of Sweden’s most internationally renowned contemporary artists.
Kay Chernush (USA) “Borderless Captivity”, is a documentary photography series, taken while on assignment for the U.S. State Department and anti-trafficking NGOs. The exhibition includes close-up portraits and scenes of child labor, debt bondage, and forced labor, as well as those rescued from sexual exploitation, spanning Thailand, India, and Ghana. Silhouettes in hazy landscapes show laborers enslaved in charcoal works in Brazil. These global assignments led Chernush to the founding of ArtWorks for Freedom and a life of commitment to raise awareness in order to end these crimes against humanity. ”The Price of Freedom”, a work from the artist’s “Bought & Sold” outdoor series will also be on view.
Prum Vannak (Cambodia) Once a farmer and completely self-taught, Vannak’s original drawings tell the story of his four years enslaved first on a Thai fishing boat, then, after jumping ship, sold into slavery on a Malaysian palm oil plantation by corrupt police. After an NGO helped him return to his family, he created intricate and colorful drawings with texts to tell his story and inform all who could not imagine his hellish years as a modern-day slave. Vannak received an award for his anti-trafficking work in 2012 by then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. His book, “The Dead Eye and the Deep Blue Sea: A Graphic Memoir of Modern Slavery” will be published in January 2018.
Anita Alvin Nilert (Sweden/USA) Curator – Founder and Curator of the Art Dialogues series for the Health and Human Rights Initiative of the O’Neill Center for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University’s Center. A founder of department, prominent publisher of artist's editions, curators, art consultants and artists' agency in Sweden for over 10 years. Anita is a board member of Konstig Books, Scandinavia's leading art bookseller, and of art fair for social justice, providing contemporary art programming through partnerships with nonprofits. She is a graduate of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, with an MBA from Columbia University, speaks 7 languages, and is dedicated to bringing international art for human rights to a wider audience to contribute to meaningful change.