The Unpleasant Conversation

by Nan Zhong

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Vicky Dong is a photographer I have interviewed for almost four months. Last week, I borrowed her artwork to bring to a photography class at school.

Vicky’s photos are about Taoism, a kind of traditional Chinese Philosophy, meditative and environmental friendly. Indeed, I didn’t expect that the classmate, the TA, or even the instructor would understand her idea. But I still would love to show something new to them. “Maybe they will get interested,” I thought.

The reality always slapped my face harshly. Not a surprise, but still hurt a little.

“I know what Taoism is, but I don’t think she present her idea very well,” the TA said. As for rest of the class members, no one showed even a little interest to these photos, including the instructor. One of Vicky’s photos I borrowed, is an abstract version of the symbol of Taoism, Tai Ji. And this one seems the most controversial one.

“Of course I’ve seen the Tai Ji symbol, but this is absolutely not the Tai Ji symbol.” The TA, again.

“This is the abstractive one, the green part going down, the white part going up, they’re ready to contain each other, that is the spirit of Tai Ji.” I explained.

“Still don’t get it.”

“So please try to! This is a school, the place people get some new knowledge. And this is absolutely the new knowledge to you!” That is the last words I said in the class that day. But, that isn’t the most unpleasant conversation that day.

After class, I rushed to home, Skyped with Vicky, gave her the feedback,

“Maybe you should make it more understandable? The Tai Ji one is too obscure for the Westerners. After all, they aren’t familiar with our culture.” The reason I said this, is Vicky said she always want to push her works into the international art market.

“Whatever, I don’t care. How’s your day today?” This is the only reaction of Vicky, after she get my feedback. And that is the most unpleasant conversation that day, actually.

I always joke around, “Chinese people are everywhere.” And that’s true. Here, in U.S., I can see people like me, with the black hair, black eyes, are everywhere on the street. And indeed, in China, I can also see people in any skin color, too, besides yellow. They said this is a great time, because every kind of cultures are integrating now.

“Really?” I want to ask, since I found that, they just refused to understand each other.

  • by Nan Zhong

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