Walk with Me^

Santa Fe . New Mexico . 24Aug-14Sep 2018

by Nuttaphol Ma

A fellowship at the Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI) brought me to New Mexico Fall 2017. I’ve crossed paths with beautiful souls who have given me the strength and courage to further my work. When alone, the contemplative time has allowed me to work out the future direction for The China Outpost (中華前沿).

I meditated on two core questions often asked as the outpost migrates from place to place. One is, “How much material will be enough?” The second being, “Where will you reconstruct your ancestral house?”

The labor of transforming the discarded material will conclude as I complete my forthcoming transcontinental travels. From west to east, I shall embark on a cartographic journey in remapping The Grand Army of the Republic Highway with my body, actions and words. Intersecting towns become sites for the outpost’s sociopolitical intervention that reimagines a migrant’s “Manifest Destiny.” From east to west, The China Outpost shall make a pilgrimage to decaying mining and railroad towns where Chinese migrant ghost once worked.

Prior to this year, I envisioned the reconstruction of my ancestral house being near a body of water. I did not know where. I do now or at least have a clearer direction. I continue to tackle contested sites with the intention of excavating the layers of spatial injustices to the surface. Two connected sites resulted from my yearlong reflection. The first site is Angel Island. It is a place that once housed the immigration station that operated during the implementation of the Chinese Exclusion Act. The second site is Shamian Island, a former treaty port within China that was once ceded to European rule.

These critical thoughts converged in an exhibition I organized at SFAI. It’s entitled Walk with Me. The exhibition invited participants to wander within the lobby and gallery space. Relics, artifacts and photo documentation of activities within The China Outpost filled the lobby space. A partial model of my ancestral house anchored the main gallery. The south wall was activated by a map of the outpost’s forthcoming transcontinental journey across “The Grand Army of the Republic Highway”. The north wall was blocked off by a handcrafted fabric wall that functioned as the surface for a video projection of my durational walk along Highway 190 from the Badwater Basin to Whitney Portal.