Molly Crabapple, Slaves of Happiness Island, 2014

Join curator Clark Clark for a 3D tour and discussion of the exhibition Kafala: Migrant Labor in the Arbian Peninsula

Nearly 7,000 migrant workers have died thus far in preparation for Qatar's 2022 FIFA World Cup, and the recent pandemic has only escalated the severity of the issue, leaving many more workers stranded, unpaid and neglected. This is just one example of how the Kafala sponsorship system is creating a migrant worker crisis in the Arabian Peninsula, which attracts workers from impoverished nations across Africa and Asia. Such workers regularly endure unconscionably long shifts, scorching heat, inhumane living conditions, and abuse. Employers regularly confiscate their passports, trade their visas to the highest bidder, and force them into crowded dormitories. This exhibition surveys art and creative activism that bring attention to this exploitative system, and calls for its reform.

A group of artists, writers, architects, and curators known as the Gulf Labor Artist Coalition organized protests to protect migrant workers' rights during the development of the New York University campus, The Guggenheim, and Louvre museums in Abu Dhabi. Jonas Bendiksen's photographic reportage documents migrant workers' lives in the UAE, Kuwait, and Qatar. Street portraits by Sudanese artist Khalid Al Baih and Indian photographer Aparna Jayakuma showcase guest workers' sartorial choices on their only day off. Illustrations by Ryan Inzana bring attention to the trafficking of women, and drawings by Molly Crabapple reveal the plight of the construction workers who have built up Saadiyat Island in the UAE.

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