HomeJapanese AmericanArtist Haruka Sakaguchi Highlights Anti-Asian racism

Artist Haruka Sakaguchi Highlights Anti-Asian racism

photo from Haruka Sakaguchi via Photoville

Though only being open for four days, an exhibition featuring work from Japanese American artist Haruka Sakaguchi is receiving plenty of attention, The New York Times reports.

Haruka Sakaguchi’s project is a standout. She has overlaid portraits of Asian American New Yorkers on photographs of city locations where they experienced racist abuse over Covid-19, and added a text narration about each incident,” the review states.

Titled Asian Americans on Race and The Pandemic, Sakaguchi’s work in collaboration with TIME captures ten NY-based Asian Americans’ experiences of racism during the pandemic. But the subjects also share “how their perspectives have been shaped by recent Black Lives Matter protests” (Photoville).

Her work is part of the Photoville Festival, the annual pop-up under Brooklyn Bridge— now in its 9th year. Offering more than 40 public exhibitions at Brooklyn Bridge Park, the event typically draws thousands of visitors to the area. Now optimized for social distancing, the works of 300 artists are plastered throughout the city as “high-quality digital prints on weatherproof banners” (The New York Times).

In an Instagram post, Sakaguchi shares her inspiration for the project: “Shortly after the lockdown here in New York City, I experienced several incidents of racist aggression while out in public with my mask on. In May, Sangsuk Sylvia Kang and I started working together to interview other Asian Americans in New York City who had similar experiences,” she writes.

“While these incidents have culminated into rallies and local advocacy groups, they have also triggered deep political and philosophical debates about how Asian Americans can stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement while acknowledging anti-Blackness within our own communities.”

View this post on Instagram

I am very excited to announce that my latest collaboration with @time on racism against Asian Americans during the pandemic will be on display at @photoville in Brooklyn Bridge Park this year! The exhibition will be coupled with a panel discussion featuring some of the individuals photographed for this project. Many thanks to TIME and Photoville for giving us the space to share our experiences – in our own words. Shortly after the lockdown here in New York City, I experienced several incidents of racist aggression while out in public with my mask on. In May, Sangsuk Sylvia Kang (@sangsuk.jpg) and I started working together to interview other Asian Americans in New York City who had similar experiences. The resulting portraits were taken over FaceTime and laid atop photographs of the sites of the incidents. The story was published in TIME in late June. Since then, an 89-year-old woman was set on fire in Brooklyn. A pregnant woman and her daughter were assaulted on the street in Philadelphia. A 62-year-old man was left bloodied waiting for a bus in Rialto. While these incidents have culminated into rallies and local advocacy groups, they have also triggered deep political and philosophical debates about how Asian Americans can stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement while acknowledging anti-Blackness within our own communities. I look forward to moderating this incredibly complex but hopefully insightful panel discussion with the participants. Registration starts on September 4! Hope to see you all there. My deepest gratitude to the participants who have shared their stories with us, and a big thank you to Sangsuk Sylvia Kang (@sangsuk.jpg) and Katherine Pomerantz (@katattack42) for their careful guidance as the project continues to take on many forms.

A post shared by Haruka Sakaguchi (@hsakag) on

In another Instagram post from September 21st, Sakaguchi announces that she will be moderating a talk surrounding her work. The virtual discussion is set for October 3rd from 5 p.m. — 6 p.m. EST and will also reflect on “what it means to be Asian in America, and building cross-cultural understanding toward racial equality.”

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