Kevin B. Chen
Installation view

Patrick Tsai (on the left)
Neighbors but Strangers, 2008
Digital c-prints

"It's crazy how much China and Japan hate each other. It goes beyond just the governments resenting one another, but also in the hearts of the people. I've been traveling between both countries for the past two years and usually when the other place is mentioned, someone immediately starts to bad mouth it. Even my friends who are supposedly young, cultured, and liberal feel this way. The media, the schools, and the governments have intentionally exacerbated these negative feelings, which is a real shame because both countries are great in their own way. They seem to have what the other is lacking.

For example, China is always critiqued about restricting one's individual liberties (which it should be), but in a daily life scenario, people seem to have more personal freedom here than in Japan. In China, living is relatively cheap and relaxed, so you can get bye pretty easily, while in Japan, life is weighted with social pressures of fitting and joining the rat race. Japan has the greatest things in the world like bikes, furniture, computerized toilets, etc., but people have to work themselves to death just to afford it.

It just takes an open mind...

Neighbors but Strangers is a two-part photo project forcing both cultures to be side by side for the people to see and interpret their situation. Hopefully one day people will lighten up a bit and remember what John and Yoko said a long time ago:

"War is over if you want it, Dick Heads!"

Or something like that...“ - Patrick Tsai

Tamara Albaitis (on the right)
Convey (Your Truth), 2009
37 raw speaker cones, audio wire, wood dowels, monofilament and two 4-minute soundtracks

"Alphabets and basic vocal utterances are what make up our most predominant form of communication: language. Language defines cultures literally yet has a deeper tie to each of us individually. Speech comes from our breath (chi – the soul), the shape of our mouth (our physicality) and the tradition of our heritage (our politics and religion.) Vertical and horizontal languages are examined and depicted here at their most basic state, exposing that at the root of it all: we all sound the same."

"A special thanks goes out to the following who, without them, this project could of never been realized: Steven Chan, Abby Chen, Jeanine Lionardo, Nicolas Horber, Michelle Hyun, Bruno Marteniz, and Mr. Utretch." - Tamara Albaitis

Present Tense Biennial: Chinese Character

May 1 - August 23, 2009
Chinese Culture Center
San Francisco, CA

Photo credit: Scott Chernis
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