Binh Danh and the Visual and Public Art Department (VPA) at California State University Monterey Bay (CSU, Monterey Bay) are collaborating on I Am Chinatown Salinas | Yo Soy Chinatown Salinas, a participatory project documenting Salinas’s Chinatown from a social, cultural, and anthropologic perspective.
The Visual and Public Art Department, founded by Suzanne Lacy and Judy Baca 25 years ago, focuses on social practice, activism, and community arts. It has connected and worked with communities throughout the university’s immediate region, including Salinas’s Chinatown, home to more than 1,200 residents. Among other activities, VPA has worked with Chinatown residents to document their rich history.
Furthering that effort, Dahn will use the daguerreotype as a photographic method to spark conversation about Chinatown’s historical merit while also capturing current revitalization efforts. With VPA students, he will conduct interviews, hold storytelling workshops, and produce a panel discussion with community members.
Previous participatory projects by Binh Danh include, among others, a collaboration with community gardeners to design street posters for San Francisco and “Viet Nam, Nebraska,” a portrait of Lincoln, Nebraska’s Vietnamese community. I Am Chinatown Salinas | Yo Soy Chinatown Salinas will culminate with an exhibit in late 2020 at VPA and at the Republic Café Museum in Salinas’s Chinatown.