Belonging Shut by

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Tiffany Sia, Too Salty Too Wet 更咸更濕 (Speculative Location Press, 2021). Courtesy of the artist.

Dear Readers: My private tale accounts for a little fragment of the multifaceted identities and residing experiences of parents of Asian descent residing world wide. It doesn’t accept as true with the bodily violence members of the AAPI team contain long continued, nor the sexual violence and harassment experienced by so many AAPI females. I’m grateful to you for taking the time to read my words, and I urgently seek records from of you: as soon as you occur to be conscious one thing, inform one thing. It requires an insurmountable amount of energy and braveness for a person in pains to combat against violence, and to live with the ghostliness and silence of trauma — and it takes all of us to combat racialized disapprove rooted in white supremacy. -KC


I haven’t forgotten the phone name with my mom on the night before my twenty-ninth birthday. Our seemingly banal dialog concluded with her ruminative thought: it used to be time for me to look at down roots somewhere. The meaning of this phrase bewilders me. My field fabric assets contain sojourned in a form of cities — as contain I, never staying very long in any of them. How does one launch as a lot as recount a life rooted in a build aside of dwelling?

Belonging is an equivocal abstraction — rudimentary and unsatisfactory as Cathy Park Hong locations it in Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning — a liminal assert that can remain conditional to immigrants. It’s an enduring negotiation rife with emotional labor and inherently reckoning on others’ acceptance, an unsolicited jam for of us that defend on the traumas of colonialism and displacement.

Artist and filmmaker Tiffany Sia and I were both born in Hong Kong and grew to vary into naturalized in plenty of countries — Sia within the US and myself in Canada. In her chapbook of bastard textual negate material, Salty Wet 咸濕 (Inpatient Press), Sia writes: “香港冇了.” A realistic outlook tells us that no amount of resistance or hope will discontinue this postmodern metropolis from as soon as extra winding its countdown clock and unwillingly rotting away. All the procedure by procedure of Sia’s original talk for The Lab, broadcast from Hong Kong to San Francisco, I asked, “Where make you accept as true with yourself to be in 2047?” Sia would love to attain to Hong Kong nonetheless “I don’t accept as true with myself to be right here anymore…who knows? It’s a truly very long time.”

Samson Younger, A murky theme keeps me right here, I’ll make a broken song; set up watch, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, 2017. Photo: Simon Vogel, Cologne; courtesy of the artist, Edouard Maglingue Gallery, and Galerie Gisela Capitain.

“NOTHING WE DID COULD HAVE SAVED HONG KONG IT WAS ALL WASTED.” When 2047 approaches, I must seek into Samson Younger’s glaring neon textual negate material set up, bearing in mind the metropolis’s reoccurring fate as collateral injury whereas grieving its annihilation. As a child of neocolonialism, I was born on leased land nonetheless contain benefited from Hong Kong’s global capitalist modernity. I’ve listened to my grandparents’ tales of nostalgia for the metropolis’s colonial previous and I’m now witnessing from afar the consequential conflicts and ruptures engendered by the falsehood of promised freedom and democracy. The metropolis’s combat to look at its identity originate air of the Western put up-colonial discourse and China’s nationalistic myth parallel mine. Its colonial legacy peaceable consumes me; its future loss of life already haunts me.

Bilocation is a privilege nonetheless furthermore an illusion of freedom; we can not neglect validation from both build aside of dwelling and but belonging isn’t assured. In her original e book, Too Salty Too Wet 更咸更濕, Sia asks, “who are the legit or illegitimate children of a build aside of dwelling?” Édouard Glissant argues that to utter legitimacy is to proclaim entitlement to territorial possession. For generations of Hong Kongers who proceed to continue to exist borrowed land or in exile, our historic previous and future necessitate our abandonment of legitimacy and a connection to construct aside of dwelling that is previous the colonial standpoint. Glissant advocates in Poetics of Relation for a belief of rootedness that takes on the belief of the rhizome, “in which each and every and every identity is prolonged by procedure of a relationship with the Varied.” This rootedness rings a bell in my memory of Jenny Odell’s analogy in The finest technique to Invent Nothing, in which the final passe-progress redwood tree in Oakland is a behold to the metropolis’s historic previous, “a wordless testomony to a extraordinarily actual previous, both pure and cultural.” This previous skool tree, “The Susceptible Survivor,” instilled a sense of rootedness and “placefulness” in Odell. She defines attention as an originate awareness to original atmosphere nonetheless furthermore a fixed effort to attain to what has been observed; it’s a coaching equipment that can also be modulated for various renderings of our actuality. Odell’s deepened attention to the ecological panorama of Oakland gave her a original sense of belonging. I made up our minds to resolve refuge in one other form of archive.

Letters from Marcel Marceau to Bari Rolfe, from the archives on the Museum of Efficiency and Construct in San Francisco.

The edges of the stationary are adorned with whimsical and effervescent doodles of daisies and a smiling solar. Yet the words are refined declarations of lust and longing between a pair of critical person-crossed followers — written by the preeminent French mime artist Marcel Marceau to his mistress, Bari Rolfe, a loved resolve within the US mime world who lived in Oakland from 1976 till her loss of life in 2002. Within the local archives of the Museum of Efficiency and Construct, I had stumbled upon letters and telegrams that portrayed a romance spanning over twenty years.

Sitting within the green room on the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver on December 30, 1960, Marceau wrote to Rolfe, “I care for you…Yours as incessantly extra so (or Marceau).” His humor has no longer escaped me, nonetheless it undoubtedly is the desirous tenor of his letter that I empathize with. For I, too, had tried to attain my long-distance lover in California from an home building factual four kilometers far off from the theater. As my consciousness registered how this archival doc coincided with my life, Marceau’s yearning and loneliness transcended linear time and build aside, traversing fifty years into the long bustle to vary into share of my chosen memory — before this previous chapter of my life is forgotten.

For Rabih Mroué, “to overlook and to support in mind, that’s what considerations the archive.” Since 1986, Mroué has peaceable plenty of materials for his private archive, a roughly memory that, as he says all by procedure of his performance Originate Me Stop Smoking, “is unlived, nonetheless it undoubtedly lives with me.” His invented archive is stuffed with memories able to be activated within the long bustle; those particular fragments of the previous remain undiminished or unaltered without being consulted by him. It is a legitimate equipment no longer like our abominable memory, “as long as it is there, I’m able to seek the advice of it […] I support in mind anything in it.”

As a replace of making fraught attempts to belong, I must fabricate a deepest archive love Mroué’s. A listing of selected memories that I’m able to return to, drawn from all of the areas I contain lived and am residing in. And in residing with and by procedure of this archive, I’m able to launch as a lot as recount a rootedness that can peaceable be fragmented nonetheless cultivates a chosen myth of my previous whereas “speaking within sight” to my sign atmosphere. Invoking Trinh T. Minh-Ha’s manner to life and filmmaking, “to construct aside of dwelling oneself in the case of the realm” as a blueprint of resistance to illegitimacy, my connection to construct aside of dwelling is a blueprint of re-created nostalgia that doesn’t linger within the previous nonetheless moderately projects into my future.


Thank you Gordon Faylor for encouraging me to accept as true with on how archives can plan connections to areas. Thank you Claudia La Rocco on your kind words and for helping me rep mine in this deeply private and affective fragment of writing.

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