In her project, The Garment Worker, Betty Yu created an interactive media installation to highlight the unfair and abusive working conditions still experienced by workers in Brooklyn’s growing garment industry. The installation in Kang Wei Laundromat simulated the sounds, motions and experiences of a garment factory while providing testimonials and information from immigrant workers on their sweatshop conditions. Betty’s background as a community labor organizer and media justice activist, and her personal connection to garment workers, informed her project to educate the public while arousing people to take action to support the elimination or improvement of such conditions.
Through the integration of a sewing machine, video and audio, “The Garment Worker” provides a rare look into garment working conditions that Chinese immigrants face in New York City through the personal story of the artist. The user experience the sounds and motions of a garment worker. When the user turns the balance wheel or slide the stitch control or pushes their foot down on the pedal different stories and facts of the garment industry appear on the screen.
The project was dedicated to the artists’ family, who has worked in the garment industry for over three decades and in particularly to her sister, who was a Chinatown labor activist and passed away in 2010.