Economy of Migrant Labor – for the Right to Work (January 19 – May 19, 2018) is a solo exhibition by the transnational radio collective The Bridge Radio. The exhibition and its accompanying discussion event take a closer look at the precarious living conditions for migrant workers in Denmark and their struggles for rights.
The exhibition presents a reworking of a sound installation that the collective made for Roskilde Festival 17, the largest music festival in Northern Europe, together with a group of 12 people, who have asylum status, residence permits, and homes in Southern Europe, but often end up living on the street in Copenhagen in their search for some kind of work.
Economy of Migrant Labor – for the Right to Work takes the form of a large soundscape that presents recorded statements by each of the 12 collaborators accompanied by graphic works on the walls. Listening to their statements, it becomes clear that all of the collaborators have been granted asylum in Southern Europe, but that they have been forced to migrate north to look for work due to the economic crisis and high unemployment in Southern and Eastern Europe. Their asylum status allows them to travel in the Schengen area to Denmark on a tourist visa, but it does not grant them a Danish work permit and access to medical treatment or social assistance. So many have been forced to become day laborers or to sustain their livelihood by collecting empty bottles and cans in parks and streets that can be returned for a recycling refund of 1–3 DKK (25–50 US cents).
The exhibition discloses the racism and police violence that these people are regularly exposed to and unveils a life without social security. But, as The Bridge Radio states, “the pieces of conversations […] also bring to light a real struggle to organize against the exploitation of the precarious but important work done by migrants all over Europe.”