To Those Unsupported

2019 | Wood chairs, wood carving

This installation work is composed of five wooden chairs that metaphorically addresses the industry of human trafficking, and aims to give voice to the voiceless.

Each chair represents a country where human trafficking is going unchecked. Each chair has had its original finish sanded off—and then been stained once more—to represent the erasure of victims’ identities, while its broken legs are carved with victim testimonies in their country’s official language. A leg of each chair is severed and left to lay on the ground. The chairs are suspended above the detached legs, criticizing the lack of governmental support which inevitably allows the vicious cycles of slavery and violence to persist.

The five countries represented here are Belarus, Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. Each of these places, amongst many other nations, has been experiencing challenging times of political turmoil and civil unrest. In places where the infrastructure is fractured, it is that much more likely the poor and vulnerable will be unequivocally taken advantage of. Human trafficking isn’t exclusive to sex-trafficking, although that is the most prevalent issue. Human trafficking extends to the forced migration of particular people groups, or certain ethnic groups being chartered to facilities where their slavery then becomes a form of labor, physical or sexual.

When the perpetrator of violence knows there is no consequence for their abuse it is that much easier, and that much more likely, that they will seize the opportunity to exploit and prey upon the defenseless. Many times, local law enforcement in these countries will turn a blind eye to the injustices brought to their attention, their system corrupt with the coercions from people with power and money who propitiate the cycle of slavery.