Young Women Speaking the Economy

I.M.O.W. Team

People in Their Place

In Costa Rica, nearly 10 percent of the population are Nicaraguan immigrants who come to Costa Rica in search of economic opportunity. Nearly all of these immigrant women work in the informal sector, as domestic workers, childcare or eldercare providers, or cooks. Photographer Roxana Nagygeller presents an intimate, touching series of portraits of Nicaraguan immigrant women in Costa Rica who work as domestic help.
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Photographs by Roxana Nagygeller

Exploring the idea of being a woman in my art comes naturally-from myself, my daily life as a woman and a mother, from my sisters, and from my female friends. Migration is also ever-present in my life because I and so many of the people I know and love are also immigrants, including my father, some of my friends, my adoptive family, though sometimes being an immigrant feels more like a transverse axis-far less natural.

As migration is so important to me, I tried to tackle it in the most direct way I could. That's why, for "People in Their Place," I focused on portraits of Nicaraguan women living and working in Costa Rica as domestic help. In Costa Rica today, almost one quarter the population are migrants, most of them women, heads of families and homemakers, and of these migrants, more than half are from Nicaragua, where environmental disasters and lack of jobs leads people to leave their country in search of work.

In "People in Their Place," three themes converge: woman, migration, and domestic spaces. Creating these images enriched me profoundly, because of the link and the relationship that is created by sharing one's time. I met very brave women who had dared to cross the border, compelled by the desire for something better for themselves, but even more so for the love of those they left behind.

In "People in Their Place," the subjects take ownership of their work spaces, wearing their best clothes and posing in their boss' home. Although some may look confident, little signals suggest their discomfort during the act of making the portrait-their hands or facial expressions are particularly expressive.

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