I think the most exciting aspect of my part in the project was that I was going to be able to exchange with another Asian woman and how I would experience "difference." At a preliminary group meeting, someone had mentioned that perhaps it would make more sense (there would be more at stake I presume...) for the two Asian women participants to exchange with someone outside of their own race (which was anyone else other than ourselves in the group.) There was never a question as to whether or not other participants should actively try and exchange outside of their race. Later that evening we all went to a bar and before entering, in the spirit of the whole project, my new exchange partner Melanie and I exchanged I.D.'s. Of course we both got in, but I think that spoke more about ourselves than the bouncer manning a door on a slow night.
The exchange never happened. I freaked out. It was the second to last week of school, I was finishing my first film, and was too scared to have my double finish the film for me (at least that is what I told myself. Although it is true, I still think there was something else looming deep underneath that, until my next hypnotherapy session I will probably not figure out.) At that point I thought that Melanie would never forgive me, she was also coming to CalArts the following semester and I feared running into her. We have since become friends and have been in a race and representation class together (10 people, all grad students, all people of color- when will that ever happen again at CalArts?).
Melanie is awesome, fierce and extremely dedicated. She's also a great dancer. Hopefully we'll be hanging out a little bit more.
Thank you Michael (and I mean both Michaels) for all the drama!
peace and love,
September 3, 2003 (in the Chinatown public library, Chicago IL, home to Muddy Waters)
My interest in participating in the student exchange program was to address my concerns about how the concept of an individual's identity as fluid and not fixed or defined is based upon a privileged subjectivity of race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. My selfhood will forever be read as racialized and gendered, along with the assumed stereotypes and generalizations. The student exchange program burgeoned my own interest in examining that one cannot escape the confines of such categorizations in order to be defined and socialized as an "individual".
What then, constitutes an individual? My primary interest was in implicating those whom I associated with on a daily basis into this experiment: my fellow students, friends, professors, and so on to examine what infact it means to have autonomy. Moreover, since my doppelganger was of the same ethnicity and gender would imply that individuals are socialized to classify and code people and things according to specific constructs. I expected that were the exchange to occur, that no one would notice that I was not myself if they did not have associations with me on a daily basis. Hence, my double would be able to perform my assumed identity by just being.
However, as my exchange fell through at the last minute (quite literally), I realized that the issues that I am concerned in would have to be addressed in a new and not so didactic manner. And that perhaps would have to involve a broader base of people to be implicated into the experiment.