Image © Li Liao
by Alec Ash
On October 9th 2012, 30 year old Li Liao reported for his first day’s work at a Foxconn factory in southern China. The colossal electronics contract manufacturer, which makes our iPhones, Kindles and Wiis, provides a livelihood for hundreds of thousands of poor Chinese. It was also the center of controversy after a spate of worker suicides in 2010.
Li Liao was issued his identity card – worker F2356272 – overalls and cap. He was shown around. On the assembly line, he was to help manufacture Apple’s latest gadget, the iPad mini. He worked there for 45 days. Then he quit, bought an iPad mini with his wages, and displayed it and his overalls as part of a contemporary art exhibit in the fashionable 798 art district of Beijing.
His boss, presumably, didn’t see that coming.