Working Conditions

Table with clear and green glass bottles on top of a paper tablecloth printed with a sugarcane pattern. Also laid out on the table are pieces of sugarcane. In the foreground is a sign with text. In front of the sign is a set of four glass cups. - Working Conditions exhibition - Rebecca Maria Goldschmidt - Aromatic Table

ARTISTS: cinematic savage | CYJO | Rebecca Goldschmidt | Shizu Homma | Cynthia X. Hua | Sarah Khan | Tiffany Lin | Lewanda Lim | Lisa Pradhan | Shellie Zhang

September 4  – December 15, 2018 |  Monday – Friday, 10am-6pm


What does labor mean to Asian American communities? Who are the workers in our communities? What is the value of our work? Where does our labor go unnoticed? How do we remake our relationship to labor to align with our value systems?


Asian American lives are shaped by the concept of labor, whether it’s working in factories overseas, working as caretakers in the United States, or performing the emotional labor of smiling every time someone asks “Where are you from?”. The unsung labor of Asian Americans is foundational to the United States, along with the labor of enslaved African Americans, incarcerated inmates, undocumented workers, femmes, and others.


The artists in Working Conditions utilize a variety of strategies—performance, video, painting, installation, sculpture, and mixed media—to illuminate the ways in which labor operates on a global and a personal level. Their work tells the untold story of Asian Americans in the labor movement, as well as the labor of creating a diasporic community. Their work asks us to consider connections between the work of the artist and the condition of workers within a global economy.


Taken together, their work reaffirms the genesis of Asian American communities as a laboring class alongside other forms of racialized labor, and proposes a reorganized view of the world that recognizes artists as workers, and workers as artists.


Working Conditions is accompanied by a series of public programs that examine the topic of labor through poetry, workshops, and musical performance.


Guided group tours available for a suggested donation of $50. To schedule a tour, contact Melissa Chen at


Performance by Shizu Homma

Reflecting on her personal labor history, Shizu Homma will perform traditional Japanese embroidery at the opening reception and additional performances during gallery hours and have finished needlework to frame. Visitors are invited to ask her about work she has done—illegal, legal, voluntary, coerced, paid, and unpaid. Homma’s performance will continue during gallery hours from September 10 – September 21.


Related Events

  • Opening Reception: Friday, September 7, 6 – 8 p.m.
  • Beyond Appropriation: Economic Exploitation and Erasure – First Friday, October 5, 7 p.m.
  • 3:25pm performance by Gu Wei – First Friday, December 7, 7 p.m.
  • The Living Deal: API Poets on Loss, Labor, and Love – First Friday, November 2, 7 p.m.


Asian Arts Initiative is designed as a mobility accessible facility, with access to all public floors and spaces, and seating accommodations for programmed events. Both non-gendered and individually isolating restrooms are available on each floor, all equipped with changing stations. If contacted in advance, we will make every attempt to fulfill requests for reasonable accommodations such as vision/hearing auxiliary aids and cognitive disability guides. Please note: Due to most events being attended by the general public, we cannot guarantee accommodations for those with fragrance sensitivities. AAI is a family-friendly multigenerational space.