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.