I was very hesitant to announce the project at first, because I had felt it did not yet live up to my dreams for the project–an homage to my mom, refugees and immigrants, and also to the beautiful subtleties of language, memory, and love.
A Dinner Table Response to Your Responses
However your thoughtful words of encouragement lifted my spirits from the darkness of self-doubt and hesitancy. I was at a lost for words. I wanted to write a letter to each one of you to thank you and respond to all of your questions and feedback. But in the spirt of sharing I decided to write this open letter to mimic a conversation between friends over wine and dinner. I am hoping that through the exchange I can address all your incredible questions as well as open up further conversation regarding the project, language, memory. Please share continue to share your stories and thoughts with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Firstly to all, from the bottom of my heart thank you for reading, watching, and sharing with me through the emergence of this project. Thank you also to my mom, who was the first to respond to my e-mail thread with the e-mail text “Love it!”
1. Format and Power of “Conversation?”
Over the few years of living abroad, I have thought a lot about the power of conversation. Through my nomadic wanderings, something that anchors me is the conversations I have with strangers turned friends, long distance friends and family, and my late night 4 hour conversations with my partner Eric about life, meaning, language, and love. I also reflect deeply about the conversations I’ve had in the distant past and how memory changes, distorts, re-imagines those conversations and imbues them with new meaning. This process of reimagining has been an empowering re-authoring of difficult memories and misunderstandings with my loved ones. Meditating on conversation has been a fruitful exercise to add textures to oversimplifications and misreadings.
Also to answer the “Where in the world are you?” We’re currently in Europe with some family, and will continue to live this day by day living out of our suitcase kind of life for the next year or so. It’s been a period of tremendous reflection, honesty, and the detached discomfort pushes us to challenge norms and question…everything with a spirit of compassionate gratitude and childlike wonder.
Thank you also for keeping me in conversation and connected to your lives and inspiring work. Thank you for your strength, honesty, and love.
2. “Where do you get the energy?”
I want to play, to dance, to experiment, to see what happens. I think we all have this inner energetic voice that sings and laughs, but somewhere along the way the voice ends up being ignored, silenced, or suppressed with others voices or that of Rationality, Logic, and Meaning. I want to be less afraid and surrender to the bliss of uncertainty and play.
3. Layered Style – Music, Visual, Language
As a result of my playful surrender, I have also embraced the non-linear non-dominant narrative. I believe it to be more honest and true to life and its mysteries. We are in a constant state of becoming and our understanding of the world is temporary. I wish to relish in the beauty of layered and constantly changing meanings–revised, iterated, forgotten, remembered. This layered, non-linear process is what makes language and memory so powerful, totemic, and universal.
You are right in observing my current fascination on this topic!
4. The story behind the beautiful blanket
The first time my family lived in a house, we lived with my three uncles, 2 aunts, and I shared one room with my mom, dad, older brother, and older sister. We had what I thought was a huge bed that my siblings and I imagined as a floating ship, a castle, a palace. The bed had this 90’s style patchwork blanket of teal blue, magenta, and green that served as props in our imaginary playground. Every night my mom would share stories of her childhood in Vietnam with us, as we lay horizontally in bed under that blanket. It traveled with us as we moved to other apartments and houses (there was the “2 bedroom apartment where my brother slept in the closet,” “the cats and flea house,” and the “the huge and empty two story house that we could not afford.”) Somewhere in the recent past the blanket was recycled into a dog bed and then now only remains in my memory.
The blanket in the film was one that we found in our apartment in Lisbon–where my mom and Eric’s mom is visiting us right now. The colors and patterns resemble that blanket from memory, but also it symbolizes my patchwork memories and colorful woven interpretations of Vietnamese, memory, and my mom.
5. “Submit to film festivals!”
This was a completely new frontier and I spent a few days submitting to three film festivals. It was both a confusing and nerve-wrecking process, but the project is now on Film Freeway. The process also made me think about audience and purpose of my film. Youtube comments as well as colleagues have criticized my work for being too experimental, ‘artsy,’ or confusing. I want to make films and art for myself to better understand my past, cultural upbringing, and shape my own worldviews. But I also want to make films that resonate with others. So…I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.
I also shared the project to a few Asian American art platforms. If you have any other suggestions for festivals or audiences that I could submit/share my work, please let me know at email@example.com
Thank you for also sharing my work to your family, friends, and loved ones.
6. Connecting with and responding to the project
What do you do when your dreams are realized? I dreamt of creating something that connected with others…that was my simple goal. Thank you for sharing your words of connection with the project–particularly of memory, relationships, and generational language.
I am honored that the project leaves you to question things yourself. I love your comment that the best feedback is to make art and be creative in response. Let’s create a “circle of inspiration and positivity.” Share your work, your thoughts, your musings, your play.