Xyza Cruz Bacani was born in The Philippines, and like many Filipinos, she left her home country in search of economic opportunity. As a domestic worker in Hong Kong, Xyza (pronounced “sigh zah”) began taking photographs in her spare time. Her hobby quickly became a passion, both for the therapeutic effect it had on her, and because it awakened an innate drive for self expression.
Through social media, Xyza’s work began to catch the eye of the international photography community. Not only were her photos visually striking, and her story compelling, her subject matter was evocative. Her photos depicted the gritty beauty of city life, but from a viewpoint that encouraged sensitivity, not sensationalism.
Though her employer was notably kindhearted—she lent Xyza the money for her first camera—many foreign domestic workers suffer countless abuses. Xyza’s work documents and exposes these conditions, and as she has grown as a photographer, so has her work. In addition to Hong Kong, she has recently photo-documented human trafficking in New York City and Abu Dhabi.
Her current exhibit, Modern Slavery, focuses on the struggles of foreign domestic workers, and the abuses they often suffer.
In 2015, Xyza was one of seven Magnum Foundation Human Rights Fellows, a prestigious award that enabled her to visit the United States. In the same year she was named one of the BBC’s 100 Women of the World, and she’s currently an ambassador for Fujifilm.
Modern Slavery will be on exhibit at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild from October 17, 2016 through January 6, 2017. She will begin a workshop with MCG Youth & Arts high-school students on December 12, and there will be a public reception and artist talk on December 14. The event is free and open to the public. For updates, please visit the Facebook event page.