Saturday, 18 February - Saturday, 25 March 2023

Opening Reception:
Saturday, 18 February, 5 - 7pm

On Tuesdays, I dream of horses; 2022; Oil on Canvas; Approx 18" x 24" (46cm x 61cm).

Peter Augustus is pleased to present Daydreams in Exile by Xyza Cruz Bacani.

Bacani (b.1987) is a Filipina author and photographer who uses her work to raise awareness about under-reported stories. Having worked as a second-generation domestic worker in Hong Kong for almost a decade, she is particularly interested in the intersection of labor migration and human rights.

She is one of the Magnum Foundation Photography and Social Justice Fellows (2015), and has exhibited worldwide. Bacani was one of Asia Society’s Asia 21 Young Leaders (Class of 2018), one of the BBC’s 100 Women of the World (2015) and was included in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia (2016). She is currently a Fujifilm ambassador. Bacani is also the author of We Are Like Air, a compilation of her photographs documenting migrant workers and their families. The book is framed around Bacani's relationship with her mother, who escaped trafficking after two years of abuse. In 2015, Bacani won the prestigious Magnum Foundation Human Rights scholarship to New York University, which allowed her to enroll in the Tisch School of the Arts six-week photography course. She then obtained an MA from NYU in 2022, despite lacking an undergraduate degree.

While primarily known for her award winning photography, Bacani works across several artistic formats, including installation and mixed media. Daydreams in Exile will be the first time the artist has exhibited her oil paintings. The creation of the dynamic cubist-like works was a journey of personal and artistic growth for Bacani, who was taking a break from documentary photography. Her vivid color scheme and passion behind each work is reminiscent of fellow Filipino painter Ang Kiukok, whose work can be described as a form of documentation - a reaction to the unrest in the world around him and an artistic therapy.

The exhibition also showcases an interactive altar installation. Georgia Bacani, the artist’s mother, is a devout Catholic. She was baptized, married, and remains a devout believer, yet because of her job as a migrant domestic worker, she learned to pray to Chinese gods to appease her Hong Kong employer.

Prayer Area Altar Installation, Interactive; Mixed Media.

The installation features two deities: The Great Immortal Wong (Wong Tai Sin) who is the god of health, and Kwun Yum, the mother of all gods in Hong Kong to whom worshippers in the city offer incense to ask for blessings and good fortune. It became a part of Georgia’s daily life to pray to these gods, and although the practice began involuntarily, she began believing in their abilities to spread good luck and fortune. Viewers are invited to kneel on the pillow and experience this ritual.

Also on display is a cross-stitch embroidery, which was inspired from Bacani’s photographs and created by migrant workers in Hong Kong along with the artist. Every Sunday, she witnessed women migrant workers creating beautiful patterns with cross-stitch on their day of rest after working six consecutive days. It serves as a physical representation of how society operates through the work of the invisible hands, performing multiple kinds of labor.

Invisible Hands; Interactive Installation; Cross-stitch Embroidery.


As a Filipina artist, my practice and praxis is deeply rooted in exploring the complexities of humanity. Through my photography, I aim to document the beauty and brutality of our world, being the conduit of stories and voices of those who are often invisible, marginalized, and oppressed. However, the trauma of witnessing this took a toll on my mental health and made it difficult for me to continue my art practice.

In search of solace and tenderness, I turned to the colors of the world around me. By identifying and naming the colors in my environment, I could ground myself in the present moment and find beauty in everyday life. This process of observation and naming became a form of therapy, a way to make sense of my struggles and find peace.

This body of work, Daydreams in Exile, reflects my journey toward resilience and healing. It represents the process of finding hope and tenderness amidst the struggles of living in exile. It also serves as a reminder of the power of human resilience in overcoming difficult times. Through this work, I hope to share my experience and the importance of self-care. Daydreaming is not just a form of escape but also an act of resistance and self-care. It is an act of rebellion against societal expectations to always be productive and push through difficult times. As an artist who primarily creates black-and-white images, this new collection of colored paintings has helped me constructively process emotions and reclaim control over my well-being.


Xyza Cruz Bacani grew up in Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya, the eldest of three children. She studied for a bachelor's degree in nursing at Saint Mary's University in Bayombong before dropping out and leaving the Philippines to raise funds for the education of her siblings. At the age of 19, she joined her mother in Hong Kong, working as a nanny for an affluent family in the Mid-Levels. Bacani started taking casual photographs after purchasing her first digital single-lens reflex camera with a loan from her employer. She is now a full time photographer working on various under reported projects around the world. Among her various street photography images of Hong Kong society, she has covered the 2014 Hong Kong protests in Central and documented the lives of other domestic helpers at Bethune House Migrant Women's Refuge in Jordan, Hong Kong.

Bacani’s work is included the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Kadist Collection, Paris and San Francisco; Foreign Correspondents Club, Hong Kong; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco; NYU Abu Dhabi; and in private collections in New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, London, Los Angeles and Singapore.

Her work has been exhibited around the world in both galleries and institutions. Select solo exhibitions include: We Are Like Air, Christine Park Gallery, PHOTOFAIRS Shanghai (2019); We Are Like Air, Christine Park Gallery, New York (2019); We Are Like Air, Hong Kong Arts Centre, (2018); We Are Like Air, Open Source Gallery, New York (2018); Singapore Runaways, Foreign Correspondent Club Hong Kong, Hong Kong (2017); American Chamber of Commerce Gallery, Hong Kong (2017); Street Photography International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum, Saint Louis, Missouri USA (2017); Modern Slavery Cho, Why Gallery, Bangkok Thailand (2017); Under Represented, Christine Park Gallery at Apiary Studios London, United Kingdom (2016 - 2017); The Outlier, Arrow Factory, Beijing, China (2016); Behind Concrete Walls, KUC Space, Hong Kong (2015);  Shared Past, The Foreign Correspondence Club, Hong Kong (2015). And select group shows including: Wanchai Grammatica, Hong Kong Arts Centre (2018); After Work, Para/Site Gallery, Hong Kong (2016).