On Friday morning, Khmer-American artist Kat Eng set up a sewing machine in front of H&M’s Times Square location. The eight-hour performance was a response to the brutal military crackdown of striking garment workers in Cambodia. In early January, 500,000 workers joined a strike to demand a livable wage. Over 400 factories were forced to shut down operation. The government ordered military police fired upon demonstrators, killing five and injuring dozens. In solidarity with the oppressed workers the artist worked the entire day, stitching together 2 and 2/3 actual dollar bills, the daily salary of garment workers.
“</3 is not a campaign for pity or charity.
It is an act of solidarity with the women who labor under the boot of multinational corporations and their collapsing industrial machines, women who literally create immense value with their own callused hands yet remain in poverty.
It is a message to consumer culture: behind every stitch is a hand, a face, a person.
It is a critique of working class commodification and the brand industrial complex. I am not here to list the names of every corporation engaged in exploitation in Cambodia- though I will. I am here to meet you, the consumer, and to be consumed by you and to rest in the pit of your stomach. To be explicit, to haunt you while you shop.”