Sunday, June 28, 2009

Home away from Home

Chinatowns have always been a place for Chinese immigrants to feel at home in a foreign land.

They originally began when Chinese immigrants – most from the Taishan region in Guangzhou province, left China to find work as manual labourers. Many of them went to Canada and the US working in the mines and building the railways.
Other ethnic groups also create their own “quartiers”, but none are quite as exotic and colourful as the Asian ones.
When step into a Chinatown, I almost feel like I’ve been transported to another country - I love it.

As a child, I travelled with my parents on road trips. Sometimes the only memory I had of a city was of its Chinatown.
I consider my parents to be more open minded than a lot of other Chinese immigrants I’ve met, but I also believe that there is a very competitive characteristic in Chinese culture – we are always comparing ourselves to others –

“Is the food in this city’s Chinatown really better than the food in our home Chinatown?”

I must admit, when I travel, now as an adult, - if there is a Chinatown, no matter how big or miniscule, - I HAVE to visit. Not only do I visit, I MUST take photos and send them to my entire family – which in a way makes them kind of proud.

Inevitably, staying true to my upbringing, I will always be comparing it to MY Chinatown.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Provocative Street Art

I was never a huge follower of graffiti, until I came across some street art that made me stop in my tracks. One of these artists, goes by the name "Miss-tic"; the topic of my first post.

To be honest, my adversity towards the art form is not for the artwork itself, but rather the choice of canvas. I have a profound appreciation for beautiful historical buildings, so to me, illegally imposing a "tag" on one of them is comparable to defecating on the front steps of the Louvre.

Miss-tic has quite a repertoire of work that can be seen around the streets of Paris. The artwork above was photographed in the 13th Arrondissement, but I have also seen Miss-tic's work on the streets of the Latin Quarter, and Montmartre.

I admire her cheeky/provocative texts that usually accompany her stencil art, like the one above that reads, "J'aime les hommes avec étonnement" (I like men with astonishment) with a Marilyn Monroe-esque pose, or the one under it that reads,"Les actes gratuits ont-ils un prix"(free acts have a price) with a woman's behind exposed.

So have I changed my opinion on graffiti?

Not completely. I still think buildings with historical significance should be left untouched by street art, but as much as I admire tradition, there is still the naughty illegal element that makes it such an alluring practice.

True, most of the graffiti on landmark buildings is eventually removed - so I suppose it could be considered a type of temporary street exhibit. I will however, suggest that graffiti artists use a pepsi ad as a canvas instead?