Brian Hartley Sago
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Immigrant Shipment
screenprint, 17 x 20.5"
November 2002


For more than a decade people in Fujian, a southern province of China, have paid “snakeheads” to smuggle them out of the country. Common destinations are Korea, England, Canada and the United States. These people pay the snakeheads thousands of dollars for the “service,” frequently provided with life-threatening conditions. The issue usually only surfaces in the press when several people die from being packed into shipping containers or freight trucks without food, water or fresh air.

Those people who survive the conditions of the journey arrive in a state of indentured servitude, owing the snakeheads several thousand dollars more which they have to work off while living as illegal aliens in their new country.

If you look closely at the print you will see bands of small white figures packed into square forms, relating to the immigrants packed into crates and the traditional composition of Chinese calligraphy.

Many thanks to Paul Lund, Jessica Gourley and Kyoko French for assisting with the Chinese. Without their help, the accuracy of symbols and text in this print would have been greatly diminished.

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