Chinatown Conversation, / 2010 / Performance and video in collaboration with Han Yuxin / Video 8:10

Han Yuxin is from China and I’m from Texas. We became friends, both out of place, in New York. We would walk around the streets of Chinatown looking for strange details that would pop out and catch our attention, like broken objects in a display case or precise arrangements of garbage boxes. For me, I was trying to understand my role in this area as a consumer of the exotic and for Han, he was trying to find a sense of home in a foreign land. The objects of Chinatown and our fascinations with their arrangements spoke to us as a way to relate.

We decided to go on a performative walk, this time guided by an extra long carrying pole. We wandered through the streets buying things that symbolized of our relationship to Chinatown and adding the shopping bags to the pole. This was a consumption dérive, where our purchases led us to the next choice. It became an absurd scene in its own right; not only because of the combination of a white American man and a Chinese man carrying a pole full of goods together, but also because you never see carrying poles in Chinatown. It’s a common sight in China, but something of the old world absent in New York.

We returned to rearrange this collection of objects in Columbus Park, a space filled on the weekends with families and crowds surrounding Chinese chess matches. While local musicians played their meditative strings and chess games commenced, we began our own game.