Xyza Cruz Bacani: We Are Like Air

Xyza Cruz Bacani: We Are Like Air | Installation View | Press Release | Map | On Quartz

August 1-25, 2018
Opening Reception: August 1, 7-9pm
Artist Talk: August 8, 7pm
Public Art Display: June 15-August 1 (map)

Xyza Bacani, from the series “Modern Slavery,” 2014-present

Open Source presents We Are Like Air, an exhibition and public art project by Xyza Cruz Bacani.

Over the past several years, Xyza Cruz Bacani has documented migrant workers in Hong Kong, Singapore, New York and the United Arab Emirates. Having been as a second generation domestic worker herself, Bacani is interested in pursuing stories about the intersections of labor and human rights. Her photographs explore the lives of women who work these jobs and risk their lives to support their families. Bacani’s personal experience as a domestic worker in Hong Kong has given her a unique perspective, as well as access to the lives and stories of these women, which has resulted multiple projects focusing on migrants from cities all over the world. But Bacani has often felt that there is something missing in her narrative: the story of her mother.

Bacani’s mother’s story will be one of those included in We Are Like Air, which will tell the stories of domestic workers in New York and Hong Kong. Domestic workers, many of whom have left their homes to provide a better life for their families, are hidden behind the walls of apartments and high rises in major cities around the globe. According to the International Labour Organization, as of 2015 there were 150 million migrant workers in the international workforce. Unprotected by labor laws, migrant workers risk their safety, working long hours and living frugally to send money home to their families living in poverty. Some domestic workers are parents who may face the task of taking care of their employer’s children, even though they had to make the sacrifice of leaving theirs behind.

In June 2018, in conjunction with We Are Like Air, a public art display of Bacani’s photographs of migrant workers at spaces throughout NYC will spur dialogue with New Yorkers who likely come into contact with migrant workers everyday, but do not know their stories. In August 2018, a multimedia exhibition will further explore the stories touched on by the public art project.  We Are Like Air includes narratives with a great importance for Bacani, but it also has a more universal importance: Bacani’s family is just one of millions who have been disrupted. While We Are Like Air highlights the difficulties faced by migrant workers, it is ultimately a narrative about the lengths people go to for the ones they love.

Xyza Cruz Bacani (1987) is a street and documentary photographer. In 2015, Bacani received a Magnum Foundation Human Rights scholarship to New York University Tisch School of the Arts’ six-week photography course. Bacani has been recognized for her work as one of the BBC’s 100 Women of the World (2015), Women Who Wow Philippines (2016). She has received awards such as the Standard Young Visionary of the Year for Photojournalism (2015) and the Justice Centre Human Rights Award (2014). Her work has been exhibited at Para Site Gallery (Hong Kong), Ayala Triangle Gardens (Philippines) and Kong Art Space (Hong Kong) among others. Bacani’s book We Are Like Air will be released on November 30, 2018.

Special thanks to our partners: 56 Bogart Street LLC, Martin Kaminer, M.S. 136, NURTUREart, Think!Chinatown, WMA Commission

This exhibition is generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, and The Puffin Foundation.



OPEN SOURCE is a participant-driven art initiative in Brooklyn, NY that provides space, community and conceptual context for creative play and critical commentary.


11th Annual South Slope Derby

August 25, 2018 Noon Every year in the end of August you can experience the thrill of witnessing our participants from the summer Soap Box Workshop race their fun, funky, eco-friendly contraptions down 17th Street in Brooklyn! Over the past eleven years, our Derby has been a staple of the neighborhood. Each year, the Soap […]

church of monika

cHURCH OF MONIKA: Katarina Poliacikova

What is the cHURCH? | cHURCH OF MONIKA: Katarina Poliacikova *DATE CHANGE: THIS EVENT WILL TAKE PLACE ON JULY 22* July 22, 2018 11:00am Join us at the cHURCH where artist Katarina Poliacikova will be discussing her current project, Fires Venice Tequila Sunsets. This is a free event. Bagels and coffee will be served. Katarina […]

Kids program