I’m fascinated by Chinatowns the world over. They’re neighborhoods where the Chinese were first relegated by force (either by policy or custom) and have transformed into cultural curiosities—tourist attractions. What visual signals do Chinatowns give us to establish their “Chinese-ness”? Their “Asian-ness”? What does it mean now that 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants are flocking back to these neighborhoods once invented for the purpose of segregation?
As a Thai American, I’m a child of a “Third Culture;” not American enough nor Thai enough. I’ve always felt an affinity for Chinatowns and an increased sense of comfort within them. They allow me to temporarily fulfill my lifelong yearning to disappear into a crowd—sparing me the pressure of attention from looking different.
This collection allows me to explore the visual space of Chinatown as it relates to my experience living as an Asian American.