How can diasporic communities survive & thrive amidst adversity?
How do we create an environment that supports the exploration of topics such as racism, tokenism, and more?
The pandemic was a pivotal turning point for Asian diaspora art initiatives to branch into different modes of connection with not only internal community stakeholders, but also our predominantly white audienceships. Pre-pandemic, we, as marginalized artists, were already able to withstand emergency conditions, but as Mutating Kinship Lab (MKL), a platform for Asian diaspora initiatives, we continued to explore the diverse topics developed in our previous lab. In this year’s lab, we focused on the post-pandemic white audienceship, through an “anti-fragile” framework and the concept of “brave spaces”.
At the heart of the Lab lies the principle of antifragility. Inspired by Nassim Nicholas Taleb's concept, participants explored how diaspora communities not only survive, but thrive amidst adversity, transforming their experiences into sources of collective strength & resilience.
Furthermore, the lab explored the concept of a brave space—a space that encouraged engagement with difficult and uncomfortable issues with white audiences. MKL participants shared their experiences, perspectives and strategies on creating an environment of trust and respect that would allow for the exploration of complex topics such as racism, tokenism, cultural fetishisation, appropriation, and more.
It was really nice to see you a few days ago. I wanted to talk more, but after your talk ended, many people seemed eager to converse with you, so I left early. Meeting too many people made me dizzy and tired. I‘m sorry for leaving without saying anything.
Among the things you said today, your comments about bravery keep echoing in my head, compelling me to write this letter. How courageous can a person be? Is the woman who migrated to Germany with no promises, but with hope for a better world, who works all day at a nail salon and moans in pain every night due to her aching shoulders, brave? Or is her daughter, who has grown up in this place and isn’t fully Korean or German, and lives in Germany, brave?
Is the person who throws everything away and starts anew brave, or is it the one who slogs through, silently preserving what they have, who‘s truly brave?
If I am not just a single point in time representing my current state but rather a ‘self’ that has accumulated stories/knowledge passed down from past generations, then under what circumstances can a ‘flat’state of ‘self’ without such accumulations become brave?
Or is that even possible?
Even Antigone, who knew she might die yet threw herself forth, wasn’t she able to do so because she wasn’t just an individual ‘I’, but an ‘I’ layered with relationships and ties to her family?
But can we say one is braver than another?
Having written this,
I realize I’ve poured out too many questions.
I miss you,
I‘ll wait for your reply.
As readers traverse this visual landscape, they are not merely spectators; they are active participants in a profound intellectual odyssey. The map, a testament to the workshop's depth and breadth, fosters engagement, encourages critical thinking, and sparks conversations that extend beyond its borders. It embodies the essence of Mutating Kinship Lab, transforming abstract ideas into tangible, thought-provoking visual narratives, inviting readers to explore, question, and learn in a visually captivating and intellectually stimulating manner.
Park Hye-in, a distinguished Curator & Researcher, explores themes of tradition, modernity, and decolonization in East Asia, fostering dialogue and forging connections in transnational ventures. Siyu Mao, an innovative Graphic Designer based in Berlin, specializes in visual aesthetics within social contexts. Her expertise lies in crafting engaging visual narratives for cultural institutions, artists, and individuals, showcased through exhibitions, publications, branding, campaign design, and diverse international artistic projects, including design education initiatives.
Umi Maisaroh, an Asian diaspora artist, shares her artistic journey at the MKL 2023 Workshop. Reflecting on her experiences, she emphasizes the importance of discomfort and white-audience engagement in creating a brave space. Discomfort, akin to training a muscle, fosters growth and resilience. Participants explore unique ideas like sauna performances, encouraging audiences to confront discomfort and embrace vulnerability.