This Artist Is Putting the Invisible Work of Domestic Laborers Front and Center on Miami Beach

Ekaterina Juskowski's durational performance #NeverNotWorking takes place over 50 hours.

Ekaterina Juskowski, #NeverNotWorking. Photo courtesy of the Miami Girls Foundation.

As fair goers rush from event to event this week in Miami, they might want to take a moment to pause outside of the UNTITLED fair. The durational performance #NeverNotWorking, an ode to domestic labor, is taking place for a total of 50 hours—pass by too quick and you’ll miss it.

The piece, by Ekaterina Juskowski, sees performers hanging large white sheets between the palm trees on the beach and then take them down again. The artist was responding to the fact that millions of women spend their days carrying out other people’s household tasks, only to have to do the same work at home once they are “done” for the day. The #NeverNotWorking hashtag has been popularly used as a sort of humblebrag, but here it invites viewers to consider their own privilege compared to that of underpaid domestic laborers.

“As an artist, I was inspired by my great-grandmother,” Juskowski told artnet News. “She had to do laundry for other people to survive. At the end of her life, she said, ‘I’m so lucky. I didn’t have to work ever.’ And we were like you were doing this hell of a job! And it was difficult—they didn’t have washing machines!”

Juskowski is also the founder of the Miami Girls Foundation, an organization that fights the hypersexualized stereotype of women in Miami. She’s partnered with 100 other local community groups to stage the performance piece, which involves a volunteer from each group working a half-hour shift. It’s all part of a larger #NeverNotWorking campaign, which aims to “empower working women and combat labor trafficking in South Florida.”

Ekaterina Juskowski, #NeverNotWorkingPhoto courtesy of the Miami Girls Foundation.

Ekaterina Juskowski, #NeverNotWorking. Photo courtesy of the Miami Girls Foundation.

“Art has power to create social change, but you have you to partner with organizations in the community,” said Juskowski. “It’s about creating a beautiful vision.”

The Miami Girls Foundation is also sharing the stories of local domestic laborers all month, with daily profiles on women like Elisna Agomar, who became a household worker because she wasn’t fluent in English.

“Some people think that because you accept to work as a household worker that you are nobody,” Agomar told the foundation. “Household workers need the support of a union in order to defend their rights, their respect, and dignity in the labor force.”

Ekaterina Juskowski, #NeverNotWorkingPhoto courtesy of the Miami Girls Foundation.

Ekaterina Juskowski, #NeverNotWorking. Photo courtesy of the Miami Girls Foundation.

#NeverNotWorking also has a presence inside UNTITLED, where Miami Girls has a bright red booth showcasing the project’s title. Juskowski has also designed matching red aprons, an eye-catching uniform that delivers the project’s message.

“Domestic work is difficult and it’s high intensity and it’s repetitive,” added Claudia Navarro, of the Miami Workers Center, which has partnered with Advocacy Partners Team to help present Miami Girls at the fair. “Everyone hates household labor, but it needs to be done.”

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