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Response to Trans Experiences

Response to Trans Experiences

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Published by Christina Xiong

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Published by: Christina Xiong on Nov 24, 2010
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Christina Xiong Reflection for Transexperiences: A conversation between Chen Zhen and Zhu Xian Chen Zhen says

in his ‘self-interview’, “That is the beauty of being a <<migrating creature>> like me, who could examine my own country and Asia through a polygonal prism”. Although at first it was hard to connect Chen’s points, from his definition of a trans-experience and “short-circuit” to the role of multiculturalism and art in ‘Westernization’, I found it easier to understand by relating his experience to my own. By coming to China, I’ve not only gained a different perspective of the country of my supposed “identity gene”, where my family heritage traces back, but also learned more about America. In the U.S., we focus on our nation’s potential, what lies ahead for us. But by ‘zou-ing’ and leaving my home in New York, I’ve been able to see the other side, what the U.S. represents in the eyes of the Chinese. Most importantly, I realized that while adapting to Shanghai’s environment, I’ve been unconsciously comparing the two cultures. This, according to my interpretation of Chen Zhen’s interview, is ‘trans-experience”. From taking in communist China’s thoughts on American democracy and comparing it to our own pride in the ideals of freedom, I’ve had to “connect the preceding with the following”. From being frustrated over crowded buses and frequent line-cutters, I’ve grown to accept Shanghai’s distinct social behavior. The only difference between my own attempt to find a healthy balance and that of Chen’s is ‘context’. China, unlike the U.S., which is filled with ‘multiculturalism’, is constantly changing. One of these constantly changing ‘context’ factors is China’s modernization. Chen believes that many outsiders mistake modernization, China’s social, economic and political transformations, for “Westernization”. Of course economic development, the need to prove one’s existence among Western superpowers, has an impact on the culture of the people. But its influence does not mean that modernization controls mass culture. According to Chen, “even though the concept of multiculturalism was developed in the West, especially in the United States, you can nonetheless set your own <<rules of the game>> to shape that space”. Therefore, through art, he is not only trying to express what cannot be said in words, but also taking a part in shaping this new China. Instead of allowing Chinese culture to be defined by the many influences of the <<Others>>, he envisions China as an initiator of a “second tradition” in multiculturalism.

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