Angel Island


Angel Island (It Used to be All Immigrants, but its still a Nice Place, and its not Ellis)


Prior to the middle of the last century, most immigrants journeying from the East were processed by the Angel Island Immigration Station off the coast of San Francisco. The San Francisco Earthquake and Fire destroyed municipal records, creating opportunities for immigrants to bypass the Chinese Exclusionary Act through the inventive creation of “paper sons and daughters” (children of paper only). To counter this, immigration inspectors developed grueling interrogations, sometimes lasting for years. This often led to suicides by the paper children, imprisoned from family and culture, afflicted to intimately absorb a fabricated identity. Mainly workers of the land, they wrote and carved their own versions of popular classical poetry on every open surface of their barracks, on walls and floors, below beds and chairs. The bastardized poems from a perceived Golden Age expressed their individual torments and aspirations. These individual evolutions of identity within a collective formed the basis of the installation narrative — an environment populated by a bevy of stereotypes, mangled memories, and cultural constructs, lit and ephemeral like the celebratory Kongming lanterns used to carry out wishes and carry away troubles.

This installation was exhibited at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles.

Materials: Rice Paper, Oil Paint, Shadow Puppets