Colonization, Ethnocentrism, and Whitewashing
(Alicia) Upon looking at the Gallery website I noticed this “become a member” page. When I saw this image I started to analyze the colonial nostalgia that was present. So, even though this gallery is promoting “decolonization” and equal rights, their “become a donor page” had a wealthy patron, in an exotic robe, with a china cup and a tambourine? It is essentially romanticizing colonialism and reinforcing cultural appropriation, commodification, and capitalism. Why are there Chinese lantern flowers on the English doily, next to a tambourine (why would there be a tambourine?). It seems very eurocentric, and bizarre.
Also, on the way home Kate and I noticed these ads. We were both fairly shocked by the stereotyped, and whitewashed “ethnicities” presented. Why did one have to dress in “traditional” cloths to “speak English.” Furthermore, this ad represents the MOST stereotyped essentialist images of Asian women, and it is up, right now, in Vancouver. We knew we might be over-analyzing, as we’d found ourselves doing all day, but this is an add people see everyday taking the skytrain, so they may start to influence the way people view themselves and others.
Alicia: As stated in my term paper “as someone who does not identify as “Asian,” it can be difficult to solidify a location within the discourse if NAAF, knowledge’s in a way that makes real sense and feels authentic and respectful. I could not locate my entry point through academic journals, and YouTube videos. For me physically entering the space of an art gallery, as a witness, enabled me to see understand the complexities of NAAF and synthesize an authentic location for myself within it. The class was like learning about a whole chapter of history had been erased, and through the entry point of visual language I was able to locate myself within NAAF—as a viewer, a witness, and a participant.” This would not have been possible without the open format that allowed our group to go to Vancouver and physically enter a space created to facilitate a dialogue and include all viewers as participants.
Also, I loves this little street art in an alley by the Matchstick coffee shop. I wasn’t sure if it was aimed at hipsters, heterosexual normative families, humans in general, or western people (people who travel and use these languageless signs to navigate spaces where they are alien, settlers, or visitors).
Brendan: It has been fascinating to look back on our initial project ideas and research plans, and where the process of our investigation has taken us by comparison. Of the many unexpected learning experiences encountered during this trip, I was particularly taken by the realization of how many narratives exist underneath the official discourse surrounding Chinatown. As an outsider, it is easy to essentiallize Chinatown as a culturally “authentic” area which effectively speaks to the transnational uniqueness of its people. After completing our project I now realize that this is far from the case, and that in many cases the official discourse surrounding culturally “autonomous” institutions such as the Chinese Cultural Association, and even Chinatown itself, are subject to many influences beyond those of the people they contend to represent. Therefore we must take such influences into consideration as we examine cultural institutions as a place of activism.
Kate: This field study was a really interesting project that helped us to create our own learning journey in NAAF. Art was a great medium for engagement because when it comes to feminism and anti-racist thought, representation is such an important issue. I am really glad we ended up doing something that worked with media and voice. Seeing people’s own expressions of their experiences through diverse mediums was very interesting. I got a new view of what modern art can do in terms of giving people a voice and outlet in new ways; in the past I might have dismissed the unusual mediums in the art we saw and not fully appreciated it. I so appreciate the time Tyler Russell took to explain the exhibit and really engage with us as peers. Even just walking around in Chinatown with the new perspectives this course has given me was a new experience. We did a lot of analyzing pretty much everything we encountered, which can go overboard, but is one way to shake up the views we have been maintaining for too long. I also learnt a lot during the planning the trip and compiling the journal process about communication and organization.
Suki: I really liked Centre A’s Transgression/ Cantosphere because I remembered some of the protest movements that occurred in Hong Kong around the oppression of Cantonese. I have friends that participated in some of the resistance movements we discussed. It was interesting to see the way those battles have carried over to Vancouver’s Chinatown.