August 2015 | Acrylic and decal collage on ceramics
The teapot has two sides whose center images are of Dutch massacres of Bandanese Islanders and Dutch soldiers torturing English merchants in the Spice Islands. The all over pattern are drawings of mace, which is the placenta of nutmeg.
Excerpt of video
RHUNHATTAN explores a pivotal moment in world history: the trade of Manhattan island.
Uncover stories hidden just below the surface by walking in the footsteps of explorers, and learn how a tiny seed ignited global trade and transformed our world forever. In 1667, the world map was redrawn when the Dutch traded the island of Manhattan for the English colony of Rhun, in Indonesia’s Banda Island Archipelago, in an attempt to corner the nutmeg trade. This momentous land exchange, over spices, precipitated change that set in motion unstoppable waves of displacements, migrations, and laid the ground for economic systems that shape our lives to this day.
RHUNHATTAN began in 2015 as an educative project that developed out of research into food-ways, plant based histories, travel and international commerce. Working backwards, told through the voices of locals and seen through the landscape of what exists today, we uncover buried stories of European colonial expansion, trade and the making of globalization, as well as the unheard voices of the Indigenous peoples who saw a New World created where they stood.
April 2017, digital photography by a drone
Exploring the embedded ideologies of technology, I used a drone to photograph Fort Belgica that was built by the Dutch East India Company on the original Spice Islands of Indonesia. By using 20th century military-derived technology (drone) to document 17th century military technology (fort), I reinterpret and subvert the ideology belying the drone and use it to support decolonizing perspectives.
Tobacco, March 2016, digital prints on silk, installation view at Duke House for Spice Roots/Routes (On view March 21-October 27, 2017), 54 in. x 54 in.
This is part of a series of digital prints on silk that highlight a plant that was intertwined with the legacy of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade that first connected Asia, Americas and Europe in the 16th century, embodying the socio-economic connections forged by colonial mercantilism. This was installed in the Duke House that was financed by tobacco sales.
In this piece, slave ships take the place of tobacco leaves and pin-up women blow smoke onto nicotiana rustica.
Mannahatta VR (work in progress)
November 2016, documentation of virtual reality experience in the HTC Vive headset
This is an exploratory and interactive virtual reality experience as well as immersive oral history archive that brings together the past and present of one block of Broadway given Broadway is part of a matrix of Indigenous Lenape trails. This is developed through consultation with Lenape peoples, ecologists, educators and technologists. We ask ourselves how can we expand knowledge of Indigenous Manhattan? What does a sustainable Indigenous future look like? This is a collaboration between Beatrice Glow, Alexandre Girardeau and Jack Tchen and the A/P/A Institute at NYU.
Many thanks to Chief Vincent Mann, Turtle Clan Chief, Ramapough Luunape Nation for allowing us to 3D scan him for this project.
Editing, concept and camera by Beatrice Glow, production was made possible with the support of the Fulbright Commission, Colectivo Zoom and Vasco Pimentel
In 2007, I retraced the geography of nineteenth-century Chinese coolie labor in Peru. En route I resurrected memories from cemeteries, guano mines on the Chincha Islands, coastal sugar and rice plantations, and railroads that led into the Andes, until I arrived by canoe to El Chino in the Amazonian Rainforest, where no Chinese live. I conducted oral history interviews with Chinese-Peruvian elders as I retraced coolie geography. This is a photo of Iquitos-based Isabel Shashui de Liao and her husband Jorge Liao Estrella whose Chinese father almost sent him to China to train as a suicide pilot. Other stories I remember include Alfonso Shiokey Leon Jho recounting the horror of Chinese workers getting stirred alive into boiling animal fat in a soap factory, Marco Farfán revealing a Chinese grandmother in his Afro-Peruvian lineage, to Señor Antonio Ching-Wong entrusting me to locate his uncle’s grave for him.
In the spirit of migration, I condensed the one-year performance of retracing the escape route of the Chinese coolie into an itinerant museum that traveled to various South American cultural and educational institutions featuring an archive of objects and papers collected from the journey. Through the format of a performance lecture, I delve into the historical realities of Asian migration to Peru by dissecting the folk etymology of “chino.” There is a plethora of ways to use the word “chino” (Chinese) in colloquial Spanish that range from orange juice, marijuana, curly blondes, children, a gaucho’s wife, a person with indigenous physical characteristics, fifty cents to several Peruvian ex-presidents. These stories are also told through a trilingual (Spanish, English, Chinese) artist book Taparaco Myth.
Inspired by the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the Lenape peoples, The Wayfinding Project is initiated by John Kuo Wei Tchen and the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, in collaboration with artist Beatrice Glow, to promote curiosity, research, and decolonize New York’s history. The project heeds this ancient wayfinding practice for environmental, cultural, and philosophical stewardship, towards exploring and documenting Lenape knowledge of Mannahatta, the pre-seventeenth century New York brimming with a diverse and dense geo-culture of land and waters.
The installation questions the representation of Indigenous cultures in relation to aesthetics of colonial history. The objects, paintings, and prints on view each have augmented reality features—videos, animations, sound media—that superimpose alternative visions to Eurocentric worldviews. On display are three paintings on mylar overlaying reproductions of British and Dutch colonial maps against the backdrop of a galactic mural, immersive digital fabric prints of Hōkūleʻa and a Native American Three Sister Garden, an HMS Bounty ship model, a replica of a 17th century compass, and books that reference a history of oceanic exploration.
In the spirit of collaboration, this exhibition doubles as a lab activated by research and dialogue led by Lenape and Pacific scholars, culture bearers, and communities, to piece together the surviving historical fragments of land dispossession, dislocation, and diasporas. The findings will inform the creation of additional augmented and virtual reality experiences that will contribute to the envisioning and shaping of an Indigenous futurism.
June 16, June 23 and June 30, 2012
Sculptural Installation, video projection mapping and a series of curated performance
Aboard the Lilac Museum Steamship berthed at Pier 25, Hudson River Park, New York, NY
I filled a WW2-era museum steamship with over sixty illuminated drawings and video mapping projections of fish that can be found from my grandmother’s fishing village, Success, in Taiwan to the corners of Austronesia - the region that shares linguistic roots originating from Taiwan, spanning west to Madagascar and east to Easter Island. The drawings were based on the research of a marine biologist from Success. Meandering through the ship, one would encounter projections of Pacific marine life mapped onto portholes and below water level chambers with footage that I shot and then mapped with programmer Matt Romein. I also juxtaposed the colonial aesthetics of European botanical expeditions with contemporaneous Micronesian navigation stick charts and dugout canoes to question notions of cultural hierarchy as well as to draw unlikely parallels of technological advancement.
I also curated 3 evenings of performance on the Aquarium from Austronesia that featured new work by Angelica Negron’s musical ensemble Arturo en el Barco, Masami Tomihisa and musicians, Peptalk (Preshish Moments and Shayna Dunkleman), Chuck Bettis presenting Silver Process, and conceptual butoh performance by Sindy Butz.
September 6-October 3, 2014 | Social Sculpture | Aboard the Lilac Museum Steamship berthed at Pier 25, Hudson River Park, New York, NY
I organized a temporary autonomous zone aboard a steamship in New York. Art installations, books, and manifestoes were on view. Over seventy volunteers, artists, visionaries and 4,000 visitors convened around roundtables and workshops that shone a spotlight on reclaiming public space, environmental concerns, and community engagement. Set under open skies for fearless dreaming, the main deck became a reading lounge with shelves and seating made from pallets. Art installations, books, artist publications, and manifestoes were on view. The project culminated with a visit from South Bronx high school students that received the gift of reading.
A Floating Library highlight event was “We All Live Downstream,” a participatory voyage initiated by Mare Liberum and 350.org that disembarked onboard after three-weeks traveling on paper boats to network climate change activists. This photo documents an intervention on the ship where we held up lighted letters to form the message. This was created in collaboration with the Light Brigade.