How to Restore a Broken China Vase

What does it means to build East Asian identity in the West?

How to Restore a Broken China Vase explores the answer through the life of Afong Moy, the first East Asian woman migrant to the United States. In 1834, she was ‘imported’ by two tradesmen in New York for sitting in the exhibition room filled with luxurious ’oriental’ merchandise. The exhibition was hugely successful and travelled to every corner of the country. Gaining national fame as the ‘Chinese Lady’, Afong Moy’s body was not only an exhibit for exotic curiosity but also a device to form and feed the Western perception of Asia as feminine, quiet, and submissive subjectivity. Hence, more an ornament, like a piece of ceramics, not a human with voice and agency. This digital piece is a humble attempt to restore Afong Moy’s explicitly ornamentalised and fragmented life (and for those whose lived experiences are similar to hers).

* Collaboration with Naomi Woo, a pianist and conductor 

* Commissioned by Tangram, supported by SOAS University of London.

* Premiered in the virtual performance symposium New Creativity (2020)