The relationship between work and life, as well as the individual in relation to greater social systems, constitute the central inquiry of Sung Tieu’s solo exhibition. Her installation Multiboy is based on the recruitment agreement that the GDR established with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1980. For her new commission, Tieu has researched related archival material, which she has integrated into her sculptural and sonic installation in an abstracted and altered form. The goods that the Vietnamese contract workers produced in the GDR state-owned enterprises (VEBs); the regulations and contracts they were legally bound to; as well as official records kept by the companies where the workers were employed; and other similar sources allow us to draw conclusions about the working and living conditions of these workers.
Two large-scale sculptures form the heart of the exhibition. On their interior walls, a sacred architecture emerges. Through the choice of material, the sculptures suggest a protective shell, that simultaneously implies the encasing of objects and the commodification of human labour. With this metaphor, the artist also refers to the private spheres of these workers and their housing situation within segregated residential homes. Their hopes of a stable life in the GDR were often shattered by the reality of the East German working environment – its rules, sanctions and systems of control that dominated their everyday lives.