by Joy WongImage from my zine FOREVER IS A LONG TIME. Acryl gouache and graphite on frosted mylar. 2016
Lately, however, I have had to reconcile with the kind of politics my work encompasses. I don’t make very “Asian” art. I don’t draw upon my own stories or the stories of being a second generation immigrant. I don’t speak up about the way Asian female bodies are represented in images, or about the residues of Orientalism in Western art, or about the Chinese labourers behind the production of supplies and the services inherent to the art industry. Put simply, I make art that comes from a European, White third-wave feminist lineage.
Is it my duty though? I grew up like any other artist– with that dangerous drive to create things constantly, attracted to things first and ideas second (this would eventually switch) and only when I began to apply for grants and shows did I realize that I was part of a niche of minority artists, and the kind of “universal” themes I dealt with didn’t fit my race.
At the same time, I yearn to acknowledge my ancestry and the implications that come with having a Chinese surname. I want to engage in this type of politics and ask questions.
I don’t have an answer though. How does one decolonize one’s own work? It is a question that doesn’t have a clear resolution, and frankly I hate it. I want to throw this entire problem out the window, and if my high teacher was right, it only means one thing: Progress.