Adoption and its inherent binding to a feeling of cultural dislocation is at the foundation my work. Working in film, performance, and installation, I mainly work with visual and auditory signifiers of both Western and Eastern culture, specifically from the United States and China. Intentionally confusing, the results read as something I feel cannot be fully placed as Eastern or Western. Being adopted from Anhui, China at ten months old, my experience has been mostly of the Western gaze, therefore I must research culture, and recount my experiences from both a Western and Eastern perspective. I ask myself continually, how do I talk about a culture people expect me to have lived? Finally, how can I embrace this identity that I sometimes feel alienated from, both in Eastern or Western culture?
Lost in Google Maps: Huainan Anhui is an attempt to travel back to my birthplace, Huainan Anhui. As physical travel hasn’t been possible, travel via the internet is the closest simulation of this experience I can find. By testing the limitations of google maps and using the internet as a portal to a physical place, I demonstrate how limited my access is to a place that I hold closely. Being adopted from Anhui, China when I was 10 months old, I have no memory of my birthplace. The photographs my adoptive parents took of the places they traveled have become constructed memories for me. Thus, I have become curious as to how those places have changed since I left 20 years ago.
Emma Kassel is a current undergraduate sophomore currently focusing on film, performance, and installation work. Some themes she has been working with are adoption (my personal experience), as well as Asian and Asian-American identity.