The mediated group, Chinese communities naturalize in the issue of European immigration

04/02/2021

A hybrid community can be used to describe the current state of the demographic composition of Europe, at least in representative European cities, a generality. No one would be surprised by people of different skin color on the street, but this does not mean that they fully accept this shared community. On a macro level, the multi-ethnic composition is an embodiment of the trend of globalization. People from different countries with different cultural backgrounds flock to the same place that symbolizes the internationality of this city. It may be equated with advanced development and the possibility of a better future. Contrary to the scene of the colonial period, the dominant colonization of Europe gradually withdrew, the colonists exploited the territory of the colonized until the end with a relationship of oppressor and the oppressed, now most foreign migrants are not forced. However, the natives seem to feel forced to accept them. Hence the hybrid community in reality does not compose of native residents and people of other nationalities who have legal residence. For example, in Milan, the community is essentially classified into Italians and others. The question of who the other people are is not interested in the natives. I used "native" instead of "local citizen" because both Italians and foreigners with legal residence are local residents, and the children of foreigners are even born here. The natives know that these other people will always form smaller communities in their own groups with people of the same origin, which is regarded as marginal alienation. For example, China Town can be regarded as a representative commercial street for Chinese people. It is different places have formed a local mediation that is the in-between ground between the foreigner culture and the local culture. In addition to being a small Chinese community and a commercial street for foreigners, people have overlooked the core capital construction. This kind of inclusiveness given by the government is just another form of capital operation that enables foreigners to develop their own trade in a certain area, thereby stimulating the development of surrounding communities, and finally forming a superficially harmonious foreign community. This imaginary harmony is obvious because exclusivity can be seen everywhere, which is what we call discrimination. Here I take the Chinese as an example, First of all, because I come from China, it means that I have a complete Chinese cultural background with a neutral standpoint. Chinese living in Italy and Chinese living in China have different cultural attributes despite we have synchronicity. This difference is particularly obvious among young people, due to the rupture of the same historical memories and rapid changes in life experiences. For example, some Chinese born in Italy cannot speak Chinese, but most parents will let their children learn Chinese or even find a Chinese teacher. Language is the medium of thought output and the embodiment of identity recognition. If you don't speak the other party's language, it means you automatically lose the right to speak not just lose the discourse. This isolation happens naturally. For the parents of these children, language is a tool for their livelihood. For children, the multiplicity of culture is forcibly installed in their own language system, and the heterogeneity of multiple cultures is entangled to shape self-cognition. Returning to the field of art, looking at the issue of globalization, it is undeniable that China's art market is gradually appearing in Europe. The proportion of Chinese artists' works and exhibitions is continually increasing, and Chinese contemporary culture is also understood by more people. So how should Chinese artists in this immigration status express their identity and particularity that is the actual tipping point between Chinese and Western.

Chinese born artist Peng Shuai Paolo is engaged in exploring the relationship between individuals and others. The contradiction in identity recognition is a swamp he cannot escape. Instinctive patriotism has become a kind of pressure and contradiction for him. He found that this complexity exists in many people with similar experiences, some people are victims of racism and some others choose to use violence to resist. Living in such a multi-cultural environment, he is sensitively aware of the dominance of the other's discourse. Seeing his work "Untiled", a collection of screenshots of 102 languages, we may intuitively think of the earth and globalization. On further observation, the blue sphere is a kind of indigestion. The Text shown is a quote from "The Fortress of Solitude" written by Jonathan Lethem, a novel agains racism:
"Like a match struck in a darkened room: Two white girls in flannel nightgowns and red vinyl roller skates with white laces ..."
By using Google translate, all the languages can be told and understood, but is it the real freedom of language? The algorithm behind the translation alludes to the hegemonic mechanism, the preset has been inserted into the established ideology. The widespread use of Google translate is a universality that is accepted by the public, which means that people do not need to think much about the acceptance of social mechanisms. Then we finally understand that this pure blue is not the blue represented by the earth but the invasive color of Google translate that continues to expand and spread to the entire sphere, the languages from other cultures are overwhelmingly covered by foreign definitions, which itself is a kind of racism. Opposite the blue sphere is the work "I am (2019)" that expresses different nationalities in a colloquial form that is a ritual, "I am..." speaking of one's nationality in different languages is a mantra, dialogue, transmission and declaration. The artist exposes his skin to show the purest ego at the same time the footage gradually blurs until it is completely invisible, blurring all the characteristics of an individual and returning to the essence of being a human.
It is inappropriate to view Peng Shuai's work as a Chinese contemporary work. We should not ignore and generalize his multiple identities so that it only becomes a reflection of globalization. The established thinking is dangerous and irresponsible. We should realize that his work can be regarded as a manifesto of immigrants whose complexity comes from different ideologies and rooted in China's long cultural history. At the same time, he is also a representative of the diversity of young artists, adding possibilities to local art. In the post-colonial context, the external problem of immigration is trace back to colonial history, although China's territory is remote and now basically free from Western colonial aggression. Compared with many other Third World countries, China's rapid economic development becomes part of the conspiracy that theorists see it as a competitor or even a threat. In Europe, the inner problems of Chinese immigrant community come from the compromise and self-contradictions of individuals living. The immigrant group is caught between internal and external problems. Decolonization seems to deviate from the nowadays Chinese context, but the deep-rooted West-centrism has embedded all these problems. In our time, decolonization is a long-term struggle that is not just about independence but to build a real inclusive collective. Reflecting on Peng Shuai's work, all personal characteristics such as skin color, gender, race, etc are no longer distinctive. Let us meet naked!



Author info:
Katherine Yixuan Dong is a critical researcher, curator and writer in the field of contemporary art. She has Chinese background and European study experience currently working in Milan. Her research engages in various directions in the field of contemporary art, such as the analysis of society, the coexist relationship between humans and non-human in the context of globalization. Her studies intervene between the artist and the curator, non-binary identity makes her work more flexible and extends the borders out of the convention.