Robin Kang

Chinese Virus

Class of: 2023

Major: Fashion Design BFA

Medium: Digital Collage

Faculty: Michelle Lee and Andrea Marpillero-Colomina

Prompt: Create a kind of self-portrait of personal resistance that collapses time and space by utilizing digital and analog photographs culled from different types of Photographic Archives.

Integrative Studio

Integrative Seminar

With the current panic of the Coronavirus pandemic, as the virus first emerged in China, people of Asian descent have been accused of spreading the virus. Falsely accused and unjustifiably attacked, we can assume that the virus is a pretext for xenophobic harassment. Although the increase in East Asian racism may seem new or recent, in reality, incidents of xenophobia run deep within American history ever since Asians immigrated to the US. Reflecting upon the past reoccurrences and the synchronicities in the present, it is oftentimes the news and media that misconstrue our opinions and biases upon certain races. Using digital collage, each figure’s identity is corrupted and consumed with racial prejudice and incidents of assault. The chronology of the content which consumes their silhouette is determined by the ages of the figures. The parental figures are covered in news articles and political cartoons from NYU’s Fales Special Collections Library specifically the “Yoshio Kishi and Irene Yah-Ling Sun Collection 1860-2010” and propaganda from the early 1900s. On the other hand, the children have more current event media and news based around the racial prejudice and hate crimes caused by the Coronavirus. Using a personal family photo to “mark” racially charged assaults and propaganda makes the issues surrounding the virus much more intimate and real for the Asian community. Not only is this a critique against America’s xenophobia, but an informative work meant to educate viewers of the past instances of East Asian prejudice and hate crime and how nothing has changed despite the several decade gaps.