How to Read | Performance
What is backwards? What is forwards? In an examination of cultural identity, Christy Chan reads American classic novels “backwards” using the traditional Chinese style of reading from back to front, and up and down instead of horizontally. The performance starts inside the gallery, then goes into the real world, where Chan wanders through pizza parlors, drug stores, and more.
The physical act of reading western language backwards with a Chinese intent proves itself to be difficult, awkward, and hard to navigate, representing the difficulty of multi-culturalism in itself. Moreover, the performance is intended to examine broad cultural perceptions. Western culture and its traditions are often seen as “acceptable” and "modern," while Eastern culture is sometimes characterized as "kitsch" or less relevant.
How does hearing something backwards affect our experience of a familiar narrative? Is there such a thing as a correct way to experience language, culture, and literature? Which cultures get to stay relevant and important? Whose voices matter, when all cultures strive to stay relevant and important?
The novels read include: 15 Minute Microwave Dinners, The Reagan Revolution, American Baseball, Tony Robbin’s “Unleash Your Power," "The Sexy Years" Suzanne Somers, Fortune Telling and Yoga for Californians, Ayn Rand's “Atlas Shrugged," Are you there God, it’s me Margaret?, Huckleberry Finn, The Bill of Rights