Asian diasporic identities exist in a complicated tension with Asian nationalist identity formations, simultaneously affirming and disavowing the nation-state as constitutive of identity. Video maker Ming-Yuen S. Ma's work focuses on problematics of translation as a metaphor for homosexuality in the Chinese diaspora. The four videos (Myth(s) of Creation, Mother/Land, Movements East-West, and [os]) that make up Xin Lu: A Travelogue in Four Parts combine memoir with a meditation on the discursive construction of travel narratives. Building on Ma's earlier work (Toc Storee and Slanted Vision) and its interrogation of language and translation, the Xin Lu series offers a queer diasporic critique of nationalism and globalization. Situating Ma's video practice in relation to the theoretical work of Rosalind Krauss, David Joselit, Richard Fung, Aihwa Ong, Pheng Cheah, and others, Feng argues that Ma's videos explore the Chinese diaspora as a space where desire and estrangement from landscape are articulated in narrative form. Since queer sexuality problematizes nationalistic identification, queer diasporic narratives express a profound ambivalence toward space. Feng concludes that Ma's videos create a liminal space where queerness can critique and transform discourses about borders. By critiquing cultural nationalism and cinematic convention, Ma contributes to a feminist interrogation of the rhetoric of culture, nation, and diaspora.
Peter X Feng; Tongue Twisters: The Travelogue Videos of Ming-Yuen S. Ma. Camera Obscura 1 May 2012; 27 (1 (79)): 69–95. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-1533448
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