‘Territory Unknown’ serves as a visual diary that confronts, embraces and celebrates our vibrant ethnicities. Simon L Wong and Chyna Lily are young creatives expressing their isolated yet common experiences of growing up in Aotearoa as Chinese ‘New Zealanders’. Through conversation, they came to mutual feelings of discrimination and belonging based on their ethnicities. Society constantly challenged their place and suppressed their cultural identity by treating them as outcasts. This resulted in facing adversity and dealing with hate towards the language they spoke, the way they looked, to the food they ate. Through continuing this discourse, they realised the importance of self-worth and ownership of their Chinese/Pākehā ethnicity. This project was heightened further with the emergence of Covid-19 and how it caused an uproar towards hate crimes committed globally against the Asian community. The injustice angered them and fueled them to create and share this project and encourage the importance of standing in solidarity. The photography portrays an abstracted process of selfhood through the trajectory of the images, portraying three stages representing, longing, cleansing and unity. The use of the environment, figures and personal taonga, have been well-considered details in bringing this work to life with connectivity and cohesion. The two artist’s individual paths to identifying cultural barriers became a huge inspiration for driving this project. They hope these photographs will encourage the viewer to ponder the meaning, and invite open discussion regarding discriminatory behaviours.
Models: Jaesung Hwang, Jacqueline Trinh, Matthew Yee, Cameron Yee, Yuriko Shiratori, Mady, Mark Chayanat, Anlun Li, Stephanie Chin, Natalie Chin, Calligrapher, Stan Chan, MU & Hair Michaela Mckendry Spencer Jade, Rilee Mcglynn from Willis York, Artists/Assist shoot 1, Lily Power & Emily Rietveld