Breathing in New York, September 2022
Location: along 14th Street, Manhattan
Photo Credit: Winnie Su
"A Weekend in the World" by Maxwell Williams
"The 14th Street Path of Empathy" by Harley J. Spiller aka Inspector Collector
"To Tell Their Story" by Eliza Luce
"On 14th Street, A Weaving of Stories" by Matthew López-Jensen
“What’s Your Story?” at Bureau of General Service – Queer Division" by Martha Wilson
“Breathing in New York” series is about a connection I imagined between three seemingly unrelated but concurrent events that took place in New York in March 2020: the mask mandate resulting from the outbreak of COVID-19, the plastic bag ban, and my personal experience of race in New York City. Once I was walking on the streets and wearing a mask in Manhattan; Two white males passed me and called me “Chinese, Mask”, which was weird because I am not Chinese.
The feeling was less threatening and more strange and confusing. This was the first time I experienced a level of discrimination that was palpable. At the moment, I wasn’t even aware that it was racial discrimination because I had never experienced it before. My complicated feeling is not only because of racial discrimination, but also the abnormal relationship in politics, history, and culture between Taiwan and China. The word “Chinese” has multiple and ambiguous meanings, and it is a complex and sensitive topic for me as a Taiwanese.
Therefore, I thought that if I covered my head, people wouldn't know my identity. I did a seemingly ridiculous and a little sad action of covering my head with a plastic bag with a colorful Key Food label to hide my identity that, at the same time, could be seen as protection against COVID-19. Wearing a plastic bag might be not only for hiding my identity but also to avoid being defined by others. I wanted to and tried to get back the right to define myself. I am who I am.
在《Breathing in New York》系列中，我想像了三個看似無關但同時發生在2020年三月紐約的事件之間的聯繫：因COVID-19爆發而導致的戴口罩令、紐約州發起的塑料袋禁令以及我在紐約市遭遇關於種族的個人經歷。有一次我戴著口罩走在曼哈頓的街上，兩位白人男子從我身邊走過，朝我的方向喊「Chinese、mask」，我感到很奇怪，因為我不是中國人。