Fikra Graphic Design Biennale
LLC FZ CO (A Great Place for Great People to Do Great Work)
Installation Shot. Courtesy of Fikra Graphic Design Biennial, 2018
“LLC FZ CO (A Great Place for Great People to Do Great Work)” explores labor exploitation of migrant workers in UAE. Recreating storefront signage from barbershops, butchers, and cafés, each sculpture is an irreverent mash-up: shopfront names are replaced with language borrowed from real-life job advertisements promoting work in the Gulf, while visuals appropriate the psychedelic and copyright-agnostic imagery of old areas like Deira and Satwa.
In one encounter, a beauty shop hoarding that originally featured an image of Alicia Keys is augmented with text from a job ad hoping to bring people from Nigeria to Dubai. Language offering an “Attractive Salary Package” may apply to the cover girl, just as easily as the headline that warns “Beware of Illegal Recruiter.” Combined, this juxtaposition makes for a darkly ironic—and sometimes humorous—interrogation of power, labor, and opportunity.
The mode of production represents a parallel exchange: graphics and fabrication were handled by the same sign company that created the original designs in the neighborhood.