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The Significance of Asian American Contributions to the Land

Artist Blog by Andrew Kung

Asian Americans have largely been considered invisible stakeholders of the land. It's little known that early Asian immigrants built California’s agricultural and food infrastructures, spreading a wealth of knowledge in irrigation, crop rotation, and fertilization. In parallel, over 10,000 Chinese migrant workers were the driving force behind the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad - yet they were excluded from the famous historical image celebrating the railroad’s completion.

The erasure of Asian Americans in United States history - specifically concerning contributions of the land - has traveled through time and place, reinforcing a state of otherness and perpetual foreigner syndrome that inhibits any imagination of leisure and belonging. Through a reinterpretation and reimagination of Asian Americans on the land - namely on the railroad - I portray figures playing, wrestling, photographing, and eating on and along an infrastructure of forgotten history, reclaiming and contesting the very stake they have in the natural world.

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