by Vanessa Scully
18 November, 11.45am – 12.30pm, SOAS, Khalili Lecture Theatre
Screening followed by Q&A between Vanessa Scully and Dr Eva Bentcheva
Maid in Mayfair is a series of four short experimental ‘docu-fiction’ films exploring the exploitation of Philippine migrant domestic workers in the UK. While the title and storyline are references to the Hollywood box office smash Maid in Manhattan (2002), starring Jennifer Lopez as Marisa Ventura, a socially mobile, modern-day Cinderella, Maid in Mayfair draws on real-life conversations with domestic workers and the artist’s own experience of growing up with a mother who was an Overseas Philippine Worker in Australia. It satirically appropriates Hollywood’s glamorised and comic stereotypes of domestic workers in order to explore the roles of hope, fantasy and belief in the everyday experiences of Philippine domestic help in the UK. The films aim to question how the experience of the Philippine diaspora is also shaped through various faith systems which have been historically imported into the Philippines, particularly American pop culture and the teachings of the Catholic church. In doing so, they aim to ask bigger questions: does the omnipresence of the church and American cultural exports help keep the domestic workers subservient? Or rather, are these Filipinas left to fend for themselves and seek salvation through suffering, all the meanwhile longing for a silver screen happily-ever-after?
As part of SEA Currents 2017, Vanessa Scully will present the first two parts of the series. Organized in collaboration with Batubalani Art Projects.