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In America, Why Leaves Are Green 

"In America, You Are Asked Why Are Leaves Green?" is a multi-media work comprised of a split-screen video and a live performance, embodying the paradoxical tensions central to our work as immigrant artists: With tongues silenced by our homeland, what can we say in America? What are we expected to say? How are we listened to yet misheard? How can we authentically tell our stories to an inherently foreign audience, and must we be consumed by the American gaze?

The split-screen video parallels the labor of Chinese factory workers and silkworms through a satiric reimagining of the Chinese mythology of The Silk-Worm Horse, in which a horse betrayed by its owner leads to the creation of the Silk Goddess. The horse -killed and stripped into horse skin by its owner-transforms into a mulberry leaf and wraps the owner's daughter into a silkworm pupa. Amidst stuttering loops of laboring/insect bodies, our voices weave together and apart, self-consciously reflecting on our roles as artists whose work inevitably mythologizes our homeland.

Modern myths are interrogated: the source of globalization is traced to the repetitious movements of female workers whose corporeal labor is likened to the physicality of silkworms.

Immigrant artists constantly betray their sources. "Only in the mother tongue one can express his own truth," writes Paul Celan, "In foreign languages the poet lies". Every word we utter in America, then, is betrayal. Yet, like silkworms consuming their leafy homes, we eat off American palms to gain a platform for our work.

In the live performance, we mirror each other uncannily as our bodies gradually merge as one. The slowness of our movement is entrenched in disgust, the unconscious, and moves from censorship to self-censorship, orientalization to self-orientalization. This precise, meditative, yet agitated performance traverses individual concern and awareness into a shared experience.

This is a collaboration produced by silkworm pupas Jinjin Xu and Jiaoyang Li 

Exhibition/Performance Venue:

2020 The immigrant Artist Biennial 

2020 Bond International Virtual Performance Festival

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