In collaboration with members of NICE New Immigrant Community Empowerment, “Rossana” is the story of a Colombian worker facing numerous challenges looking for a job in New York City. From fraudulent agencies charging money for job mis-placements to abusive employers, wage theft, unsafe working conditions and exploitation, this fictional character goes through circumstances often experienced by immigrant workers finding themselves on the city’s precarious labor market.
From streets and sidewalks to highways, bridges and airports, Roadpavers shape the city and pave the ways of its restless flux. Most Roadpavers in New York City are immigrants coming from Africa, Europe, Central and South America: many of them not only face dangerous working conditions but are also exploited by contractors who take advantage of their great need of a job and legal status. This is a video I made with the generous participation of members of Local 1010 Roadpavers who have worked in all sorts of projects throughout the city, their testimonies speak of some of the difficulties faced at the worksite such as danger and wage theft. I specially thank Lowell Barton, organizer at Local 1010 for the invitation to do his project and for his great support.
Gabriela Ceja is a socially engaged artist born and raised in Mexico City living in New York. Her work investigates the impact of labor in social psyche by amplifying trajectories and narratives of workers and doing intersubjective practices looking to de-alienate spaces and relationships.
In 2010 she started the project Labor inventory, which explores working environments creating interactions with construction workers, janitors, costumed characters, cooks, retail, domestic workers and many other forms of precarious labor. In 2016 she investigated labor conditions in factories at the Industrial area of Ecatepec, one of the most poor, violent, and highly contaminated and areas in Mexico. Since 2014 she collaborates with her partner Fran Ilich at the Diego De la Vega coffee Co-op, a project of alternative economy that seeks to create financial flows in order to support the zapatista autonomous communities.
Believing that in art and education can empower people and communities, she has created a number of cross disciplinary programs combining art and social sciences in urban and rural areas. Since 2016 she produces video, photography and narrative projects to help describe and communicate lives and conditions of immigrant workers in New York City, connecting art with the labor movement in order to generate more powerful organizing strategies collaborating workers centers, unions and community based organizations.
She currently attends the Labor Studies MA at CUNY where she conducts a research project on indigenous immigrant workers in New York City.