The Making of the Chinese New Working Class

An exhibition by the Culture and Art Museum of Migrant Workers (CAMMW)

July 14–September 4, 2011

Initiated in 2008 by a former migrant worker and musician Sun Heng, the Culture and Art Museum of Migrant Workers is located in Picun, a village outside Beijing that is home to some 10,000 migrant workers. CAMMW is a project of Migrant Workers Home, an NGO founded in 2002, dedicated to supporting the rights of migrant workers, providing education for their children, and serving as a community center. The purpose of the museum is to record the histories of migrant workers and to advocate for the value of their labor. The Making of the Chinese New Working Class is an installation consisting of eight thematic topics that illustrate migrant workers conditions, and the re-creation of a migrant worker’s living space, and includes materials donated by migrant workers from across China. It is an installation that was originally part of the exhibition The Potosí Principle that traveled from the Museu Reina Sofia in Madrid, to the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and the IG Metall (metal workers union) in Berlin, to the Museo Nacional de Etnografía y Folklore in La Paz.

To coincide with the exhibition, Ludlow 38 is launching a series of side-events conceived in collaboration with New York based artist Marty Kirchner and The Public School New York.

July 14, 6pm
Exhibition opening and conversation
MINI/Goethe-Institut Curatorial Residencies Ludlow 38

The exhibition opens with a conversation between Zhibin Lin, research co-ordinator of the Culture and Art Museum of Migrant Workers, and Ellen David Friedman, a union organizer and labor educator in both the US and China. They will discuss the exhibition, and Zhibin Lin’s work in China, as well as a recent history of migrant labor in China, including internal migration to urban economic zones, a new wave of proletarianization. This session will take place at the opening of the exhibition.

July 15, 6:30-8pm
Unique Hairstylists, 47 Essex Street

The Hanns Eisler Nail Salon/Nail Workers Chorus (H.E.N.S./N.W.C.) will join Maria and Nancy at Unique Hairstylists to present the new cabaret performance (re) Zoning, Manicured, a music soiree to describe and denounce the forces of dislocation and dispossession at work in our communities.

July 16, 2011, 4-6pm
Precarious Power: Syndicalism, Solidarity, and the New Organizational Paradigm
Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, 25 West 43rd Street, 19th Floor

The reorganization of production along global supply chains, often through a complicated pattern of subcontracting, has provided significant challenges for the labor movement. Temporary and contingent employment has undermined labor rights protections worldwide. However, in both China and the West, the last few years have seen a proliferation of dissident worker movements, new kinds of workers organizations and workers’ rights campaigns. Some of the most dynamic and innovative have combined elements of community and labor organizing, cultural production, and direct action. Immanuel Ness, professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College, City University of New York will facilitate the discussion. His writing focuses on social and revolutionary movements, labor militancy and migrant worker resistance to oppression.

Invited guests include:
Jeff Becker, International Labor Rights Forum
Daniel Gross, IWW/Brandworkers International
Carrie Gleason, Retail Action Project
Not An Alternative

The Making of the Chinese New Working Class is supported by Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin and Kulturstiftung des Bundes.