Distant is an
interactive, Web-based documentary project. It tells my family’s
immigrant stories, which span multiple generations, through video, photographs,
mixed-media collages, and archival materials.
features short video vignettes and images that provide a portal into my family’s journey, beginning with the current COVID-19 global
pandemic, and then going back to the early days of the Chinese Exclusion Act,
which was signed into law in 1882. These portals interweave my narration,
poetic imagery, photography, archives, collages, vérité-style scenes, and
During the fall
of 2019, I started to photograph my parents and the impact that gentrification
has had on both their daily lives and future in New York City’s
Sunset Park, Brooklyn, neighborhood. Then COVID-19 changed everything.
Instead of photographing my parents in our family house, I have had to rely on
FaceTime calls and my mom’s cell
phone images to stay connected to them. This project, especially during the
pandemic, has allowed me to explore my internal and external life as a Chinese
American with multiple generations of trauma and resilience in the United States.
As we all turn
inward during this time of social isolation, I rediscover and deepen my
understanding of my parents’ tough fifty-two-year marriage. My parents have had
a strained relationship for decades while living under the same roof. This
pandemic has strangely brought them closer together. They had been socially
distancing from one another for many decades, already before it was the norm.
These immersive stories provide a glimpse into understanding the experiences of
Chinese Americans that are intimately tied to the US immigration narrative.