Lineage, video installation
My work springs from a love of stories and an unabashedly feminist sensibility. While I make video, perform and collect stories, knit and construct environments, I improvise new dynamic relationships between meaning and material stuff, personal and political, spiritual and corporeal, fantastical and mundane, individual and community.
Story offers a way to reveal and to embrace contradiction, the contradictions of a culture that lauds traditional family values yet restricts how we love one another; a culture that raises motherhood on a pedestal yet tolerates daily violence against women; a culture that simultaneously perpetuates a fascination with the “other” while obsessed with securing its borders.
One recurring theme in my work is the story of navigating through culture and identity. As an immigrant who exchanged Taiwanese citizenship for U.S. citizenship over 25 years ago, even my own extended family view me as an outsider. Raised in the United States, I can no longer fluently communicate with our Taiwanese-speaking relatives. Yet my immediate family sustains a kind of weak link with those across the ocean. The word, “family”, conjures up contradictory feelings of love, longing and grief. I strive to make cultural barriers more fluid and make art in sympathy with all border-crossers.
The border that hangs tenuously between art and life also becomes more flexible in my work as my stories weave between oral history and fantasy and as I share authorship with participatory audiences. I stage interactive experiences, keeping alive a commitment to making art more accessible and integrated with daily life.
Just prior to my most recent move, I was told of an ordinance still in the books that stated, “No persons of Chinese descent may purchase this house.” The words provoked a deep interest in the question of how a neighborhood identity comes into being. Who holds the power and privilege to make a neighborhood what it is? My current project uses oral history and community engagement to forge a collective answer to this question.