"What's your name?" is hardly a simple question for many diasporic individuals who are forced to navigate and negotiate between a multitude of names and thus, identities. Using names as the point of entry to a process of self and communal exploration, NameSake unpacks some of the meanings, tensions, traumas, and magic that underlie this experience that is inherent to place-making.
By turning a very colonial idea - naming is claiming - on its head, we aim to collectively resist problematic narratives that time and time again threaten the spirit and lives of many diasporic subjects i.e. the destiny of duality. This insidious trope remains to lump and dictate the diasporic experience into an oversimplified dichotomy between assimilation and resistance. NameSake aims to attest to the complexities and nuances that are inherent to any diasporic experiences so that we can collectively reject problematic binaries.
NameSake is centred around a workshop series where members of the Asian diasporic community are invited to share their stories, experiences and relationships with their names. Participants will also contribute to the creation of an alternative baby name book (an archive of our multiple names and narratives) and a communal art installation — held at the end of the workshop series. Through the workshops, we will create meaningful spaces and productive art that explore this critical collective diasporic experience. As they translate into physical books and immersive spaces, we hope to critically define diasporic resistance by actively acknowledging the infinite possibilities that are entitled to any human experience - starting with our names.
We would like to acknowledge the sacred land on which we live, share our stories, and practice our art. As this project aims to explore Asian diasporic experiences on Turtle Island, we recognize the continuous endeavours of Indigenous communities in reclaiming their rights on their land, as well as the work of BIPOC allies. We are grateful to have the opportunity to be part of the community, and to be able to work on this land.