In May of 2019, I traveled with my father to Hong Kong, where he was born and raised before emigrating to America in 1971. We visited numerous sites relevant to his family and childhood history. At those sites, I took photographs, objects, audio recordings, and notes.
Most of my life up until that point I had never seen most of these locations. There were no photos or images of them, so I created ‘myths’ in my mind of what they looked like — what pre-1971 Hong Kong was. During the course of this trip, I specifically focused on these myths: the stories of my father’s life in Hong Kong that I had slowly uncovered throughout my childhood, amalgamated with my imaginings and interpretations of them.
Being physically present in these spaces — seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, and touching them allowed me to observe and explore their physical history.
Even though I had visited Hong Kong before, I was young then and my family primarily visited tourist locations. The Hong Kong side of my identity was not satiated. I yearned to make a pilgrimage back, to confront and become a part of my origin.
Having undertaken this journey, I can honestly concede that this desire has been fulfilled for the time being. This desire and the need for one to visit and become a part of the specific places of their origins is something that not only impacts my personal life, but also informs my work on identity. I believe this relationship is essential to everyone. Thus, my work produced from this trip highlights and discusses the importance of place and heritage to identity.