Listening to: beatles : sexy sadie
Reading: edward w said: orientalism
[This is the synopsis for the work I have been making and will be continuing with for the rest of the year for my BA Art (Honours) project.]
footnotes at bottom.
TITLE: "Well you must be used to the hot weather, coming from an Asian country and all!"
In recent years, my day-to-day experiences have forced me to
re-evaluate my opinions regarding issues I previously never considered particularly important to me. A first generation Australian, I never felt the need to actively reconcile myself to being Australian. There was never any question in my mind. Born and raised in this country, I had never known any other home. To me, the boundaries were clear. By birthright, I was Australian, a citizen by default. However, when I found myself being forced to answer questions as simple as 'where do you come from?' in practice I realized finding the answer was not as simple as I initially thought, given that in some cases my appearance obviously implied something else. Complications arose, questions which I didn't have black or white answers to, and most startling of all, there was an unmistakable undercurrent of racism at the core which I had never before encountered.
My experiences have prompted my to question what it means to 'belong' to a culture, and how this may be integral to a person's understanding of their identity. Another consideration is whether identity is inherent in the individual* or a construct influenced by culture. In contemporary society, the boundaries of race, ethnicity, nationality and cultural 'background' appear to be in flux, and it seems these complicate how one forms a basic understanding of these ideas, before they can even consider their meaning or impact further. I am interested in the manner in which the ethnic 'other'** is still a part of society today, and additionally, the links this discourse has to colonization.
My work has progressed gradually from being centered around my personal reactions to these everyday encounters, to observing wider history to glean possible answers to the issues I have deemed important to my practice. My installation and photographic work (I feel) is the beginning to possible interventions in the everyday environments I find myself in. This work has been integral to improving my own understanding of my personal feelings regarding these issues^, and at times it has been a challenge to remain objective in order to see the bigger picture. Creating a significant impact upon the intellectual positions of others can be regarded as my ultimate goal. However, I know realistically that some may look at my work and simply fail to understand my position^^, and knowing this, I feel I am allowed more freedom to do as I please. I do not claim to have solutions, or tangible answers, and even if I did, they may not paint the picture of the multicultural egalitarian ideal; but I do hope that through my work that an interesting discourse is the result, and that through this others may consider the way in which these issues impact their own lives and those of the people around them.
*Whether this is from a biological or psychological sense is open to interpretation
** I refer to the 'other' in various forms, such as the exotic other, the primitive, the oriental. This also includes discourse related to the East/West paradigm.
^ Though some kind of catharsis was never my goal!
^^This may be because they are naively idealistic and claim to see no real difference between an apple and an orange; they are after all, both fruit. Or, in opposition, they may find themselves the supreme grand unicorn of the KKK who sees nothing but race and consequently nothing of the real person beneath the exterior.