Serene Mitchell is a Taiwanese Canadian based in Tiohtià (Montreal) and what is colonially known as Vancouver currently completing her undergraduate degree at McGill in Asian-North American history. Mitchell’s is an editor at Sticky Rice magazine and recent work has appeared in Ricepaper.
Taken in Northern Taiwan, this collection of photos, each accompanied with Chinese prose, aims to capture the island by reliving experiences from my mother’s youth. The collection is titled ‘像处女’, which translates to "Like a Virgin," the name of Madonna's 1984 album. Formative to my mother young adulthood, this '80s pop album reflects a period in Taiwan experiencing rapid modernization, the rise of the Democratic Progressive Party, and the widespread influence of Western popular culture. These images display contemporary connections to scenes of Taiwan as a space shaped by familial history and ascribed affective meaning by notions of return, loss, and nostalgia. With these images, I disclose various memories, relaying words attached to understandings of "home" as a child of an immigrant. Finding reconciliation with cultural loss, these photos reclaim "home" as a space for the continuation of cultural practice, language, and oral history, for and by people in the diaspora. As Asia has become an increasingly popular and accessible sanctuary for foreign investment and tourism, these photos intend to raise awareness of the deep historical symbols and stories within this space.
3 visual poems
by Serene Mitchell
Like a Virgin 像处女
[They call me by a name I forgot I had]
[Wear something red, for good luck
When Ama sees you she’ll be happy]
[Place the jade on your heart
Your heart beats a little easier]