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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.

Artist's Statement:

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

人家會用我忘記的名字稱呼我

[They call me by a name I forgot I had]

穿紅色的衣服,為了好運

阿媽看到你的時候會高興

[Wear something red, for good luck 

When Ama sees you she’ll be happy]

把玉放在心上, 

你的心臟跳動容易一些

[Place the jade on your heart

Your heart beats a little easier]