Bridge 3: Chinatown
Looking at New York from California, I always had some understanding of the density of this place. That word takes on a different meaning when I am able to interact, research and engage with a place and its histories. Much of the same can be said for so many other neighborhoods in NYC. Here, my group and I focused on Chinatown.
Chinatown’s roots are deep. Its intricate and dimensional past lines every street. To arrive in this place with no understanding of how to travel through it with a camera in hand with 3 other classmates is a very unique lens to view Chinatown through. I’m really glad to explore Chinatown for the first time with a group because they saw elements of the neighborhood that I might have missed. Especially when looking for found objects during this project, I felt that we all used our differences to augment the whole. Our eyes would catch different types of objects or photographs and it kept me on my toes to look with a more critical eye while exploring.
What I loved about this project was the necessity for revisitation. I needed to see this neighborhood more than once because there is more to take in than I could possibly understand in one afternoon. Even the nature of Chinatown is dependent on the day of the week, time of day, weather, etc. It was also important for me to explore the space in my different lenses. I came back alone, as a skateboarder, as a photographer, as a customer. I believe approaching this neighborhood in an exploratory fashion made it easy to collect and make a zine for this place. It also made it easy to fall in love with Chinatown.
An excerpt from my story in seminar about an old dumpling:
I wasn’t always this ugly. At least 15 meals ago, I lived with dozens of my friends and family, patiently waiting for the big heat. But what I am now, I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. My tattered skin is starting to dry out. My body temperature is dropping and I don’t think I’ll make it much longer. All around me are my neighbors, enduring a similar fate. I’ve heard stories of this before. The ones that came before me warned of a lukewarm death. I always believed it wouldn’t be me. No, I would make it and complete my divine purpose. I was destined for ascension. I was destined for warm mouths and nourishment of the body. Instead, the dark blue sky is blocked out by a massive sandpaper tongue. Right before stalactites of saliva cover my cold skin, there is a voice yelling “Mary get! Mary get over here! Don’t touch those!” As the jingle of the chain and collar bounce off the building walls, I couldn’t help but feel a little offended. Am I really not good enough for a dog? I can still provide for the world, I must still have a purpose.