spaces of (dis)connection: migrant essential workers
Spaces of (dis)connection: migrant essential workers follows a pioneering project conducted by researchers across the Universities of Glasgow, Middlesex, and Sheffield (2020 – 2023) to investigate how the pandemic has affected the everyday lives and settlement plans of Polish workers in the UK. Currently the most common non-British nationality in the UK since 2007, Poles consistently experience precarious employment and instability due to changes in citizenship-related rights and precarious employment – conditions only worsened by the pandemic with 55% of people surveyed claiming that their mental health had declined and 40.2% becoming financially worse off.
Spaces of (dis)connection: migrant essential workers combines newly commissioned photographic work by Malgosia Dawidek, Paulina Korobkiewicz, and Sylwia Kowalczyk alongside anonymous testimonies given by Polish essential workers across the UK. The shared dialogue between image and text offers a compelling and complex insight into the turbulence of the past two years for migrant workers, illustrating their immense altruism in the face of adversity. Though these photographs explore themes of isolation, labour, and hardship, they show solidarity with Polish workers, extending an offering of hope for a brighter future – one not burdened by oppressive working conditions, xenophobic stereotypes or governmental negelect. In its fullness, this exhibition seeks to preserve the legacy of Polish essential workers in the UK, celebrating their strength, diversity, and heroism during one of the most devastating public health crises to date.
This project has been funded by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC ), award no ref. ES/V015877/1.
Spaces of (dis)connection: migrant essential workers will tour between Centrala, Birmingham [02-24.09.22], Clapham Library, London TBC], and Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh later this year [TBC]. The exhibition will be available online at migrantessentialworkers.com/en/.
On display 02-24.09.22.