The first homeLA performance I created was RAKED, a ritual performance that displays the construction and deconstruction of a powder covered hill, at Rose Hill in September 2016. The work pays homage to the histories of my migrant parents, who immigrated to America to tend to the land by working in fields. RAKED is a work that brought me back to my California roots as a child of immigrants. Almost a year later, I’m returning to homeLA with similar interests, inquiries, and commitment to my home. RAKED is about labor, love, and loss, and how the land and the bodies are infused with trauma — my work often involves thematic displays of physical, mental, and emotional trauma. In this work at homeLA, Revisited, themes of the migrant plight have emerged in an unexpected way.
This year, I received the Annenberg Beach House Choreographic Residency. The 3-month long residency culminates in a performance at the beach, on the beach. Faced with the challenge of creating a work ON the beach, I grappled with how my work, trauma-based physicality, belongs on the beach. I found myself perplexed by the task of dancing on the beach, a place where all I wanted to do is sunbathe and relax. Long story short, as the waves were crashing against my brown shins, the image of the drowned Syrian boy that washed up the shore of Greece a few years back came to mind. Sorry to be graphic, but I thought this may be where trauma meets shores. (Follow my research on the Annenberg Beach House Artist in Residence blog here: https://beachhouseair.blogspot.com/)
Coincidentally, I began conceptualizing my work at homeLA // Larchmont. I came across a bunch of little brick-size cardboard boxes that I knew I wanted to use as material for this work. I started building a wall. Perhaps this was a little more obvious, but I thought of how borders, walls, and shores may serve as sites of trauma.
My research for both these projects have included meditating at the shore, traveling to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, revisiting the Grapes of Wrath, and chats with my mother about being a migrant worker. I have been meeting with friends, colleagues, and mentors discussing the topic of refugees and immigrants in relation to art and performance. I think thoughtful and creative work is emerging from the tension created in this current political climate — in a world where heated rhetoric creates division between left and right, white and black, and us and them…
With these projects, both the Annenberg Community Beach House Choreographic Residency and homeLA, I am confronted with issues where I’m exploring otherness and the call to action through the power of the image and symbols.