When I was 17, I got my first diagnose for Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and stayed 7 months at Changhai Hospital in Shanghai, China for chemotheorapy and radiation treatments.
I never set foot in the hospital again until 5 years later. This was the first time I revisited the hospital. I documented this revisit in a chonological order, as a way of confronting and studying life-changing trauma experiences.
"Yellow Fever?" is a zine inspired by the Riot Grrrl movement, based on my research and interview about interracial dating in the Asian American communities, if and how those interracial couples talk about cultural differences and their race/gender dynamics, and whether they believe racial preferences is racism.
I made this zine in 2018, a year in which I worked on projects with many, many men. Under some peculiar circumstances, those men, often white, always straight, talked to me about their dating preferences of Asian women. However, when I question them about their "yellow fever", they cringe at the subtexts of this phrase, and defend their "preferences" one way or the other. I have done some studies about Edward Said's "Orientalism", colonial history in East and South East Asia, and I started to wonder if this so-called preference comes from a place of cultural hegemony: to alienate us, objectify us...A fetish? If a preference is in fact harmless, why are folks disgusted by the phrase "Yellow Fever"?
I made this zine as a tool to explore the notion of "yellow fever" through cross-cultural, heterosexual dating, its meaning and how it affects Asian people and their non-Asian significant other. I interviewed couples on if they think their perceptions of this term, their intercultural dating experience, and opinions on having "preferences" in a partner.
All of the different opinions are presented here, some believed cultural and social differences must be communicated, while others argued race being insignificant in a relationship. I listened to many beautiful stories about bridging differences, as well as ones about heartbreaks and ignorance.
There are so much more implications that come with this topic I have not yet explored: What does being Asian mean in the queer dating scene? What do people think about powerful Asian women in Hollywood like Chloe Bennet and Esther Ku dating interculturally, or in Ester's case, openly despising dating within her race? How do minorities draw the line between well-meaning "appreciation" and appropriation; does healthy self-poclaimed alliship exist in minority spaces? It's an on-going project as I explore more about my own identity as well.
"Ballet Class" is a Super 8 film looking into my identity as a (not) dancer. After picking up swing and vernacular jazz dances in 2016, dancing has became an important part of my life, and my anxiety of people knowing me as a dancer got rather servere. The notion of a dancer includes many traits I don't embody: training, disciplines, techniques, strength, body. As someone who's more than a hobbiest but lacks classical training, How should I look at my relationship with dance and other dancers?
In this project, I documented my experience in advanced ballet classes as an untrained beginner, while narrating my own dance journey. It was shot on 2 rolls of super 8 film (200 T) and a small segment of 16mm film.
I would describe this project, though a rough edit, an effort of alienating my body from the others in the space. It was indeed uncomfortable throwing myself into an unfamiliar environment, more so reliving that fear over and over while editing the film. But nonetheless, it was a sincere attempt to communicate my constant struggle of desire and denial in being defined, categorized and explained.
During my second year at Gate Five Chinese Theater, I spent 4 months working on my directing debut, a production called "Hope It Finds You Well". It was an intimate story about two childhood friends growing apart, while writing to each other over the course of their lives.
I was first drawn to the play-script because of its literary excellency and brutal honesty. Thoughts and feelings turn into writings turn into monologues filling out the entire piece. The characters met face to face only twice in the story, but the electric feelings in those tender moments are discussed in notes and letters they leave behind, and I find that poetic. The character Guo - sensitive, and somewhat restrained - is perfect for this story. He thinks a lot and feels even more, but as he isn't communicative in person, he pours his heart out on paper.
The challenge of creating this piece was, of course, staging a relationship with no dialogue and all writing-turned-monologues. Working with the stage, I realized my power to contain in the same space the two bodies that aren't physically co-existing - A virtual space that presents as physical; a concretized playground as a display for the characters' literary and emotional connection.
Though a co-founder and artistic director of this theatre company, I had been mostly working in the backstage, designing and/or producing. It was the first time I've stood in the forefront, leading a crew of 30, including designers, tech, runners, artists, and production managers. Most of this crew are amateur first-time theatre makers, and they turn to me expecting support and leadership. I would be lying if I say I didn't doubt myself everyday during every rehearsal and every meeting, but I absorbed so much energy from them as well. There's some sort of amateur magic happening among first-timers trying to make great things together. It is not only the production itself, but also the social relations we created together that ultimately constitutes theatre at its working.