Intern Perspective: Museum Visits


I watched Three Identical Strangers with a friend in the theater after having watched the preview of it while watching another movie. My friend explained a big chunk of the documentary to me after it had ended because I was really tired and fell asleep. On the surface level, it is about triplets who find each other and they experience the magic and joy of reuniting with their long lost brothers. More deeply, though, it explores the long-lasting debate of nature vs nurture, as it soon takes a dark turn midway through the documentary.

I visited the Museum of Chinese in America in Chinatown; the exhibitions currently on view are: With A Single Step: Stories in the Making of America, Chinese Medicine in America: Converging Ideas, People, and Practices, On the Shelves of Kam Wah Chung & Co.: General Store and Apothecary in John Day, Oregon. My favorite exhibition was With a Single Step: Stories in the Making of America because the themes that it covered feel relevant today, even over a century later. It was about events such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Gold Rush in California. An image that I found to be most shocking was a cropped family photo, depicting the history of paper sons, a term used to depict those who had immigrated to the United States under fraudulent documentations. Throughout the museum, there were also several Chinese poems on the walls that had English translations next to them. These poems were about the difficulties of leaving one's home country and traveling to a place where they felt like they did not belong and a place where they felt like people looked at them as "other" because they will never be understood. When viewing the past in museums, it can seem as if these events are so far removed from the current day, but in reality, many people are reliving parts of history in various forms. The museum highlighted the Chinese American experience through photographs, salvaged objects, and storytelling. It showed the different aspects of the Chinese American community, from its marginalization to its community building. 

I also visited the Guggenheim, which featured sculptures from Giacometti and Brancusi as well as exhibitions such as One Hand Clapping and the Thannhauser Collection. Seeing the sculptures were particularly interesting because I am currently in a sculpture program over the summer, so the process of adding plaster and spreading shellac were all very familiar to me. The One Hand Clapping exhibition was memorable because Wong Ping's work took me by surprise and even a few days later, I am thinking about the deeper meaning of his animation. When I went home, I watched several of his other animations on YouTube, and they seem to make some form of commentary on society through explicit manners, focusing on the themes of obsession and desire.


Jessica Wanamaker