Valerie Soe with tammy ko Robinson
radical care, recursive images, rendezvous des futurs
1. “Virtually all residential hotels rent out their ground floors to shops and businesses, very often to sewing factories,” John K. C. Liu, an architect and professor who taught principles of community living in both the United States and in Taiwan, wrote for a description of Single Room Occupancy (SRO) residential hotels in Chinatown and Manilatown 1970-1980s.*
During his Public Service Science Residency with the National Science Foundation in 1980, Liu assembled the results of what would become an award-winning study into a three-part workbook intended to articulate everyday living patterns of independence and interdependence, mobility and activism realized by seniors. Inside are drawings that recommend in detail rooms large enough to accommodate “at least two chairs to encourage more interaction among neighbors and generate more friendships,” and lounges “connected to the kitchen, with outside exposure, to the sun.” He anticipated the workbook would be updated by future users engaged in design choices for living environments.
Taken together, this multiplicity of sketches immediately provide design guidelines specific to SROs, address the need for a diversity of images of elderly living, and offer prescient insights into potentials for a new pattern language of immigrant rights, permanent affordability, historic conservation and open space. When John K. C. Liu later moved from the U.S. to Taiwan in 1997, and restarted his teaching career at the Graduate Institute of Building and Planning, National Taiwan University where he retired in 2009, this workbook served as a resource linking localized ways of planning neighborhoods against a backdrop of destructive property-led developments across the US and Asia, and to a longer struggle to redefine trajectories of urbanism. Over time, these not only document serial spatial practices aimed at realizing the “right to stay put,” but also a sustained study of alternatives to a “living death” and for “a better world of co-living.”
2. Making Protest Mimeographs and Masks: women's struggle in the 1970s against dictatorship and for democracy in South Korea, later used for the 5.18 uprising (museum views).
3. Between March 2020 to September 2021, when the US government failed to provide personal protective gear during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Auntie Sewing Squad, emerged as a mutual-aid group of 800 volunteer mask-makers, who have cut, sewn, and distributed hundreds of thousands of homemade face masks across mostly 200 Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities as an enactment of solidarity to protect those disproportionately impacted. Drawing the connections between elderly love, community care and public health, with music by Susie Ibarra and performed by Kronos Quartet, Director Valerie Soe celebrates the Auntie Sewing Squad collective in order to inspire others to work towards radical care in the time of coronavirus.
(*Source: The impetus for this landmark 1980 study for the National Science Foundation on everyday living patterns of Asian immigrant elderly stems from conversations with Sarah Ishikawa and Chris Yip in 1977, and were recollected together in conversations between John, tammy ko Robinson and Hung-Ying Chen in 2014-2015 for The Contact Points: Field Notes towards Freedom exhibition and archive, tammy ko Robinson ϟ Jerome Reyes, at the Asia Culture Center, Gwangju, South Korea. HY Chen is one of Liu’s former students and a Convenor of the East Asian Regional Tribunal on Eviction.)
archipelagic thought, experimental film, documenting monuments
1. The Chinese Gardens: The Rise & Fall Of Port Townsend's Chinese Community ~ Valerie Soe
The Chinese Gardens looks at the lost Chinese community in Port Townsend, WA, examining anti-Chinese violence in the Pacific Northwest in the late 1800s and drawing connections between past and present race relations in this country. Through text, brief interviews, and images of the empty spaces of Port Townsend's former Chinatown, the film examines early instances of racism against the Chinese in the U.S., from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 through various lynchings, beatings, and murders. The Chinese Gardens also documents Chinese American resistance to these crimes, illuminating the hidden history of that tumultuous time.
2. Tether–peninsula, we are coming for you. Images from Where We Rest: Orogeny and progeny, islands remaking a peninsula, text from Donguibogam, sound of the wind where the two seas meet in National Cultural Heritage Scenic Spot No. 24.~ tammy ko Robinson Where We Rest examines the trade-offs in social welfare development, aid dependency, and an environmental and cultural property protection system established in the 1960s–1970s in South Korea.