Comfort through Connection is a project by Alex Zeitlin and Faye Cheng. This project is about the struggle of growing up Asian in western society. It focuses on exclusion and the shame of being different amongst a dominant discourse. This piece highlights on two stories that intertwine through mutual pressure from society and how the two adapted to their new environments to survive. Even though both individuals can’t connect to either western or Asian culture, they could connect to others with similar struggles.
The Asian coats have metaphorical meanings. Firstly, it symbolizes westernization: On the coats we printed visuals that explained how and why we discarded our Asian identity. By printing these, we westernized the traditional Asian clothing. Secondly, it symbolizes our Asian embodiment – the coat, but westernizing ourselves in order to fit – the prints. We also have to put on a ‘coat’ whenever we enter different cultural social settings – code-switching.
The two coats are hanging on a chair, Alex’s coat is on the left chair and mine on the right. The chairs are facing each other as if Alex and I are facing towards each other in conversation.
The audio piece starts with a monologue, symbolizing the isolation we felt, as we were both the only Asian students at our primary school. Whenever we expressed the same shame and pain, our voices collide. The audio piece is a stereophonic sound, which means the sound is divided into two parts, channeled through left and right. Alex’s voice is channelled through the left part and my voice is channelled through the right part, collating with the coats hanging on the chairs.