The world premier of a new installation by Canadian Artist Andrea Slavik, investigates the hardships faced by Chinese workers at the Foxconn factory in Shenzen, China – manufacturers of the iPod, iPhone & iPad. In 2010, after the inaugural release of the iPad, approximately fourteen out of 18 workers from the Foxconn plant in Shenzen, China successfully jumped to their deaths.
Unable to cope with the long hours and oppressive working conditions, the employees, who assemble a good number of “indispensable modern products” including the Apple iPhone and iPad among other large, western corporations, saw no alternative, no respite from their particular situation outside of ending their own lives. After reading about the spate of suicides at Foxconn – which culminated in a threat by over 100 workers to jump from the top floor of the worker’s dormitories in which they were housed, and the installation of preventative suicide barriers by the company – artist Andrea Slavik began to question her own role in these deaths, herself being a regular user of Apple products.
As a response to her concerns, and a memorial to the individuals who have lost their lives Slavik has created The Things We Cannot Live Without, a large scale, replica anti-suicide net that will cover the entire upper level of WAHC’s Main Gallery. The gallery walls will feature readable QR Codes that participants can scan with their own QR reader equipped smartphones or the two iPad Mini’s provided in the gallery space.
Slavik hopes the installation will help viewers reflect on the complex relationships we have with the goods we consume and products we purchase.