Shifting Lives: Photographing the Immigrant Experience in Chinatown
UnionDocs (322 Union Ave., Brooklyn)
$9 suggested donation
At this event, Annie Ling will present a slideshow of her photographs, with an emphasis on 81 Bowery, a project that explores the domestic experiences of immigrants in NYC’s Chinatown. Filmmaker Lynne Sachs will screen her hybrid documentary Your Day is My Night followed by a joint conversation.
For years, Annie Ling has worked on getting beyond the streets into the residences of Chinese immigrants in an exclusive Chinatown community. This desire was sparked by a love for the people there and a concern for their stories left untold. Ling had been documenting tenement buildings throughout Chinatown, New York, when she came upon 81 Bowery— a vestige of tenement flophouses inhabited today by Chinese immigrant laborers. 81 Bowery, one of the last standing lodging houses in New York City, has been home for more than a generation of immigrant laborers who work at construction sites and kitchens in Chinatown. Since the neighborhood has seen so much change, the resilience of these residents to preserve their way of life at the Bowery lodge really compelled her to look closely at what is being threatened. “Shut-ins” throughout Chinatown have similar stories of sacrifice. Disadvantaged from poor health or poverty, this generation of retired immigrant workers complains little about their isolation or disability. Instead, they remain in humble gratitude when considering the improved quality of life they were able to attain for their family after emigrating from China to America. Ling’s personal work in Chinatown is driven by a need to tell her own story and the stories of immigrants and individuals that revolve around the themes of memory, place and loss. These stories of fragmented families and bittersweet endings touch upon and intersect her own life and journey as a photographer.