As we arrived in Chinatown, we explored murals and storefronts and the ways in which the confirmed stereotypes about what it is to be Chinese.
We were over analysing everything and it made it hard to know what was relevant, but some of what we observed was certainly interesting. The somewhat stereotypical and frozen in time way people were portrayed in some murals was telling about the quick snapshots people take about what it means to be an Asian Canadian, when they visit Chinatown. The way a kitchen store was divided into hyper-asian in one window and more European in another; one window displayed rice cookers and a large fan and the other high end French style cookware with no accessories. The Chinese culture is engulfed with an Asian homogenization as exotic vs. the euro-western side that exemplifies a modern and clean aesthetic.Even the matchbooks we saw in a store had stereotypes. One was a large Asian man laughing (the sort of comic relief character) and a kung fu fighter on the otherside. The other matchbook has a sexualized attractive asian man, but when we turned it over it was a picture of a white girl. While these were just matchbooks (Alicia in particular) could not get over how the “sexy” Asian guy had a white girl on the back, and the other were just images of the two most common stereotypes of Asian males. It was really bizarre. We also noticed the empty storefronts, a strong aboriginal art presences, and a lot of urban/hip shops (hair salons, design studios/cafe’s/etc.).
These photos sparked our interest in the connections between Indigenous and Chinese histories in Vancouver and the way in which both cultures are being commodified, while Chinese and aboriginal peoples are being dispossessed, and marginalized within the spaces of Chinatown and neighbouring Cordova and Powell street areas.
We saw this and instantly see the contrast between a Chinese woman and the Western White woman. Their clothing were completely different and this also relate to the earlier showcase of the Chinese versus western modern cookware. -Suki