Retail space available at Chinatown, July 2018

Mr. Wang, as the director and owner of Taiwan Pork Chop House (previous Excellent Pork Chop House) for 19 years, is very confident about Chinatown's future. As he said, "Every dangerous challenge will become a lucky opportunity ultimately. Chinatown is changing; the internet world is also changing. We must follow the trend to survive. It's a good thing."

Mr. Chen, born in Fujian province, China, served in the army in Jiangxi province, China in the 1970s. He worked in a Chinese buffet restaurant in Philadelphia with his family in the 1980s and 1990s and now he lives in New York Chinatown alone. "I came here illegally," he said, "we immigrants all went on a ship to Argentine. Then the local snakehead took us to Chile, Bolivia, Peru.  Then we were shipped back to Argentine again. Finally we were here, America. You can take a portrait for me without showing my face, because if you become a famous photographer in the future, I don't want Trump see my photo and my face."

Chen Dongfan, an artist who was born in China and now lives and works in New York, is creating a mural, called "The Song of Dragon and Flowers" on Doyers Street in Chinatown. The street earned a nickname "the Bloody Angle" in the last century due to its violence and shootings. “100 years ago, Doyers Street had blood on the street,” Chen said, “and every morning people needed to clean the blood from the alley. But 100 years later, this bloody alley is covered by a beautiful mural.” 

Mr.Chen, born in Jiangxi, China, just opened his antique and home decor store in New York Chinatown 3 months ago, is planning to move back to China now. "I cannot afford the rent of $9000/month here anymore," he said, "Don't you think living in China is easier? Chinatown is too expensive now. Those foreigners are curious about everything in my store, but they are not going to buy anything."

Mr. Chen, the father of the owner of this fruit and grocery shop, is helping his daughter to prepare the watermelon juice outside the shop. Chen said, "I do not know how long she (his daughter) is going to run this store, but I will help as long as I can." One of Mr.Chen's neighbors made a joke, "He is a really nice person. He is good at cutting watermelons." 

Chinatown Archive is a on-going social research project, documenting the historical changes, gentrification process and personal stories of those living and working in New York’s Chinatown. It i’s also an archive of personal dialogues and memories containing photographic stories of encounters with strangers and friends. The portraits of people and landscape are not only evidence of our encounters but also documents of this changing community urban landscape.

People are fascinated by the idea of the "other", in terms of an culture that we perceive to be alien or exotic. And I always wonder, how does the photographer capture a situation without exoticising the subject, making it into something alien or spectacular when it is just normal people living their lives? I first decided to work on this project after I graduated from college and moved to New York. Stepping outside that inclusive and protective bubble and touching base with the real world remind me of something I never think about: my identity as a foreigner staying in a foreign place. By randomly interacting with people who have different backgrounds and run different businesses in Chinatown, I aim to explore my relationship with Chintown as an "authentic" community and the role I play as a photographer and as a person with shared nationality.

 

 

《唐人街档案》是一个仍在持续进行中的社会研究。这个项目缘起于当我毕业后搬来纽约居住,从熟悉的象牙塔抬起头,真正看见有这么多与我有着相似面孔的人在这里生活着,我才开始触摸到海外华人这个庞大群体的身份认同感。为了寻求答案,我把目光转向唐人街这片复杂的土地。纽约曼哈顿唐人街坐落于下城区,北起小意大利,南至市政厅,经过近两个世纪的发展,已经成为了西半球最大的华人社区。在这个过程中,我放下了自己曾经探访唐人街时的游客心态和视角,真正以一个同类的身份去结识一个个独立的个体,记录这个社区的城市景观、历史变迁,以及这里近年来愈演愈烈的城市士绅化进程,从而还原出曼哈顿唐人街当下的真实面貌。这些人中有辗转多国的偷渡者、有小有名气的饭店老板、有杂货店员工、有艺术家、也有替儿女打理生意的老移民。通过对这个传奇性的海外华人聚居区的探索,我得以了解在这样的大时代下,“他们”曾经历着怎样的人生,而“我们“又即将共同迎来什么。


曼哈顿中国城似乎是一片容易被遗忘的土地。尽管它横跨在曼哈顿最为繁华的地段之一,却永远蒙着一层神秘面纱。对纽约人来说,这是一片熟悉却又不甚了解的街区;对中国人来说,这里是地球另一端的一片陌生飞地。曼哈顿唐人街人潮川流不息,他们匆匆而来又匆匆而去。我想停下脚步来问,这究竟是哪儿?究竟是谁生活在这里?在过去的两个月里,我与居住在唐人街的陌生人主动接近、认识、对话,最后按下快门。在这些照片中,自信的商人留下自信的微笑,偷渡来的老兵只愿意露出背包。照片里不存在布置与摆拍,没有美化,没有丑化,一切只作为证物而存在着。