A long-form research project following Chinese families across three countries and continents: UK, Brazil and South Africa, including my own. A personal investigation into the broad subject of migration, the movement of bodies and with them the lives, minds, values and possibilities that they contain. My curiosity lies in both – the initial (often) socio-economic conditions that drove those to leave their original homes and ‘roots’, and the psycho-social and cultural changes experienced once in the host country. To explore the ways we adapt, transform, mask, relate and also what emerges from this new duality? Documenting conversations, collecting thoughts, convictions, hopes and memories in video, audio recordings, mixed-media maps and sculpture.
As the child of immigrants from Hong Kong, living in small-town England in the 90’s and early 00’s, I grew up during a time when there was little access or contact with my culture and history beyond the presence of my parents and the two-hour Chinese class I attended each Sunday. I am unsure as to how aware I was of my own questions around identity, home, belonging, language, rituals, the differences between my family and others, the relationship I had to the country of my birth and that of my blood, and of my own ‘otherness’ amongst others. I do not recall ever having these conversations with my family, and maybe as a result, active reflection on these subject matters did not come naturally, or at least at the time.
So when I left home in 2006, I took those questions with me, yet to be articulated, deconstructed, answered somehow, somewhere, somewhat.. It has taken me over a decade of maturing to reach a stage where I have found the vocabulary and courage to voice and to enter these spaces, to invite those from older generations (including my parents) along the way, who might bring insight and understanding from their own exposures to times and contexts, beyond and before my consciousness. I have accepted that there are no hard, fast, clear answers, how there never were, but at least I can now ask the questions that will open up to what was always the most valuable and desired – the conversations.