Ryan Debolski made this work during a year in Oman as part of his Fulbright Fellowship in 2014. LIKE explores the physical and digital relationships of the migrant workers who build the infrastructure of Oman, a rapidly modernizing country rich in oil and natural gas. These men, predominantly from East Africa and the Indian subcontinent, communicate using widely available, low-cost smartphones that help them cope with the social isolation they face while living in camps for years. As quickly as new friends are made, others disappear without a trace, never to be heard from again: workers are deported for various reasons, or shuffled around to different camps throughout the region. The book includes an essay by Jason Koxvold entitled Raw Material: Capital and Exploitation at the Neoliberal Frontier, which lays out the work in the context of the history of representation of labour in art.
Ryan Debolski studied photography at Cranbrook Academy of Art. He received a Fulbright Fellowship in 2014. His work has been exhibited in North America, Europe, and Asia.