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Migrant workers in Berlin

Ciba chrome print, 1999

Migrant Workers in Berlin (1999)


I did not have a concrete idea to work on the theme of 'migration' or 'migrant workers' when I first started the photographs, 'Attendants,' in 1999. While trying to find ways to resist discriminations that I witnessed in Berlin, I just wanted to picture migrant workers.


I decided the Berlin Immigration Bureau as the shooting place for my photographs. The Immigration Bureau is the place where every foreigner living in Berlin has to visit for his or her residence permissions. Foreigners experience insults at the place and the offended memories are usually strong enough to remain as unforgetful ones. Visiting the place gives us clear answers to such questions as 'who we are' and 'where we came from.'


I visited the Immigration Bureau office every day and took pictures of migrant workers who visited there. I asked them to 'pose' in front of a camera rather than photographing them unnoticed. 'Posing' means that the photographed watches the 'unknown watcher' through the lens of the camera.


For two months, I visited the Immigration office at the time of opening. At the beginning. I had difficulties to ask people for a photograph but soon I could meet many people who were willing to be portrayed. As a way to return my gratitude for their permissions, I sent them their photographs of a postcard size by mail. - Kyongju Park

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