Being and Belonging: A solo exhibition by Helen Guek Yee Mei will be organized at Oriental Art & Cultural Association on 21st August - 11th September 2016 (Sunday - Sunday).
* For more information, please visit this website https://www.facebook.com/events/875477729223117/
“虽然我们的归属感，语言和传承久远的故事依然存在，但不再像最初的源头那样的真实, 可以让我们确证对现实生活的感觉。留下的只是它们徘徊的痕迹，声音，记忆和混杂着其他的声音, 并与其他历史，情节和遭遇成为混合体“ （Chambers，1994年，第18页）
这次策展中画作尝试从累积和洐变的移民经验中，探讨在表像的样貌与肤色下, 马来西亚华人内在真实的样貌。以图像展示在'移民经历'中马来西亚华人跨文化的经验, 在文化身份变化的过程中，以日常累积的生活经验去建筑新的身份认同和归属感的轨迹, 这包括历史和个人经验的交集和重叠。
马来西亚的历史是由不间断, 过去和现在的移民(和被殖民)的经验組成的国家, 马来西亚也继续宣示本身种族, 宗教, 社会的多元性。而当前“马来人”，“华人”，“印度”和“其他”以种族和宗教的差异为依据的族群划分标准,己然成为所有马来西亚人关键的身份标志和标签。虽然“每个民族身份的历史，往往是由一个人的原生地来标签”（陳志明，2004年）, 但在移民经验的背景下探讨种族的界限与定义，却多是复杂与具爭议性。在移民和札根的经验中, 马来西亚华人的藉贯, 家庭，教育背景等影响因素所造成多元屬性的倾向在种族和文化的差异的逻辑下, 与其他各大种族被标签为单一性的标准分类。正如学者Ien Ang所指出，”那些‘民族性’的标签, 或被称为中国人...（和印度人） - 已把她或他归属为另一处象征性的'不在这里’的存在”。出生印尼, 在澳洲生活工作的她甚至觉得自己被身体表层肤色所烙印成不符合内在经历的存在。
在发展心理学中有两个重要的概念: 持’本质主义’观点的人认为身份的特质- 包括性别、种族，或其他群体特征被看成是固定不变,不可改变的本质。而社会建构主义则倾向于相信身份是社会和文化建构的结果, 而这种建构也会随着时代和社会的改变而不同, 也可在新的社会和文化条件中进行重建, 文化不仅是”过去式”, 也是’现在进行式’; 有些人甚至描述文化为’人类适应环境的机制’。
因此这组作品也尝试探讨和呈现,文化在传承过去的信念外，也是一个充满活力, 动态和不断发展的过程。尤其是在移民的跨文化经验中, 在日新月异的社会中接受新的元素，重叠或覆盖在己知的基磁上并形成一种独有的身份持质。身份和自我认同的发展是一个内在的过程，通过选择和自我调适, 建立起个人的存在与归属感, 并在新的环境和新情况里找到相关性和意义。
通过一系列混合媒介的视觉图像，包括版画，手绘，电脑合成的视觉组合, 我的作品尝试呈现这文化交集的重叠性痕迹, 这些与社会共同的经验代表集体和私人记忆的混合物, 以图像展示马来西亚华人内在对国土和文化身份归属的认同。通过图像层次的交集和重叠我也企图模糊种族分类和文化差异的界限和定义, 从图像中找寻属于马来西亚华人内在多元真实的样貌景观。
“Our sense of belonging, our language and the myths we carry in us remain, but no longer as "origins" or signs of "authenticity" capable of guaranteeing the sense of our lives. They now linger as traces, voices, memories and murmurs that are mixed in with other histories, episodes, encounters” (Chambers, 1994, p. 18).
This exhibition aims to present the belonging of place and culture identity through visual images. I am interested in the underlying complexities of human existence beneath the surface of the skin and features, in this context, the Malaysian Chinese, through accumulated experiences and intersected layers. This series of works seek to capture the processes of the memory, dealing with states of change through the intersection of inherited culture and the relationship with a geographical dimension of the host environment.
The current ethnic classifications of “Malay”, “Chinese”, “Indian” and “Others” mark the diversities of ethnicities in the country. Malaysia also continues to proclaim and celebrate ethnic and religious diversity. But the division of categories based on biological and cultural differences has also often become a crucial identity marker, in this context, the Malaysian Chinese’s living experience.
Although “every ethnic identity has a history and often the label is derived from a people’s place of origin” (TAN Chee-Beng, 2004), if we spend a second thought on ethnic boundaries or even the meaning of ethnicity, most cases are more complex and ambiguous in the context of migration experience. Anthropologists have debated the migration relevance on culture and ethnic identification. Through migration history, the Chinese’s heterogeneous tendencies have been flattened and sorted into standard classifications under racial census, which is determined by the logic of racial and culture differences. But as Len Ang observed, “The very name with which ‘ethnic’ is referred to ... Chinese (or Indian) - already transposes her or him to another site of symbolic belonging, a site which is not ‘here.’” (Ang, 2001), she also commented through her own experience of being Chinese, is “inscribed as it was on the very surface of my body” (Ang, 1993).
There are two significant approaches in the theory of identity formation. The “essentialist” perceives the individual’s uniqueness as biological by tracing one’s ancestry, and identify with members of similar physical characteristics. Identity is seen as a notion of being unified by fixed and unchanging tendency. On the other hand, the social constructionists contended that the idea of identity as a given and innate, suggesting that it is a product that rises from the acts of an individual’s will. Identities are fluid in nature and can be reconstructed in new social and cultural conditions, which continuously evolve to find its relevance and meaning in new contexts and new situations.
In the experience of migration, the physical relocation involves a new definition of identity in the environment space. By the insertion of new learned experience, the intersections of the various dimensions of identity occurred. This development of self- identification is an internal process that allows the individual to establish their sense of placement and belonging in the larger society. Here, identity is a dynamic and evolving process, always in progress, always incomplete, not only a matter of “being”,but as well as 'becoming'
In my attempt to define the ontology of the Malaysian Chinese, I present an epitome of Malaysian Chinese, by tracing both personal and collective experience, to illustrate the search for the belonging of home. By visually manifesting these submerged and accumulated layers of intersection, it seeks to represent the evolving inner realities of Malaysia Chinese, which is altered and overlapped through daily lived experience as a fusion of a constructed individual.
To visually manifest the physical representations of these internal dimensions of a people, this art work comprises of various media and on different surfaces; including painting, printmaking, transferring techniques, photography and digital manipulation, in a combination of two dimensional and installation setting arrangement.