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phoenix arizona may 2016

looking for america: a photo essay from an asian american (or is it american asian?)

Maybe this is more of a confession rather than a photo essay.

the confession: “i’ve got some real estate here in my bag” — p.simon

Chaves attempts to express a long history ugly truths, embarrassing disgusts, and unresolved conflicts. This is a confession that exudes from the scars of a naturalised Asian American who emigrated from Asia, grew up in Midwest, USA, and recently returned to SE Asia to live. This collection of analogue and digital images confesses the contradiction and the alienation of what he feels like to be an American. An American who seemingly was never fully accepted in the land of the free, and, surprisingly (or not), never accepted in the land of his birth.

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taco shop detail phoenix arizona may 2016

the philosophy: “and we walked off to look for America” — p.simon

How can one even begin to define America? Alluding to David Foster Wallace’s talk, if you ask a fish, “what is water?”, how could a fish comprehend what water is or appreciate water unless the fish and the water it lives in become separated? Chaves feels that it is best to take the most objective view possible. In order to do this, one should take a trip outside of America leaving behind any baggage in terms of myopia, stereotype, and bias. Secondly, one must be open, and, more importantly, accepting to other points of view. Then we can begin to “look for America.”

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st columba cathedral — where we went for ‘special masses youngstown ohio may 2016

the banality: “Cathy, I’m lost, I said though I knew she was sleeping” — p.simon

So now we can start to look through “mundanely objective” lenses. Chaves uses the medium of photography and takes its cohort, “contemporary objective” style, along for the ride. Nothing staged. Void of people. Only raw, naked starkness.

Thus commences our wake-up call.

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my ray of sunshine oakland california april 2016
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akron ohio may 2016

full series: http://www.marklchaves.com/real-estate-here-in-my-bag#0

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