Blender

"Blender"

Nowhere is there such an intersection of cultures as in New York City. As an immigrant who has lived in New York for over 10 years, traveling among the five boroughs using public transportation is still fascinating and exciting; being in this city can feel like visiting another country. People celebrate the customs and holidays of their country by wearing folk costumes on the street. Awnings with messages in entirely unfamiliar alphabets are completely common. Many of them advertise goods catering to specific nationalities and cultures, especially foods that were brought here or requested by immigrants living in neighborhoods like Brighton Beach, Jackson Heights, or Flushing. The packaging of these products is a form of art that tells stories and helps remind people that their culture is alive. In this way, immigrants in New York City can prevent the fading of identification with their native culture.

Blender is my ongoing project in which I investigate the diverse immigrant cultures in New York City. The project includes photos of the packaging of food products from various neighborhoods with a large immigrant influence accompanied by texts (short stories as well as notes on the history, culture, and trivia relating to immigrant-heavy areas), interactive performance, and a website. I’m showing photos and presenting short texts on the New York City neighborhoods where the photographed food products can be found. The look of these food packages often has an old-fashioned feel: bright, saturated colors and outmoded designs that are rare in both Japan, where I’m from, and America, where I now live. Through this project I hope to show that art can transcend time and language even through the simplest imagery found on a candy wrapper. Blender is a lens into New York's immigrant communities and cultures.