Sharing Food, Vulnerability and Intimacy in a Global Pandemic: The Digital Art of the Chinese Diaspora in Europe

This talk examines the digital artworks created by three Chinese diaspora artists based in Europe: Berlin-based queer filmmaker Fan Popo’s short digital video Lerne Deutsch in meiner Küche (Learn German in My Kitchen), London-based performance artist Zeng Burong’s performance Non-Taster, and London-based writer David K. S. Tse’s digital radio play The C Word. All three artworks were created in 2020 during the pandemic and all deal explicitly with the issues of anti-Asian racism and cross-cultural understanding. All these artworks also engage with issues of food and culinary practices. Through an analysis of the three artworks, Professor Bao argues that making digital art about food can serve as a creative and culturally sensitive strategy to engage with pandemic politics. Indeed, in an era of rising nationalism and international antagonism, diasporic Chinese artists have turned to seemingly mundane, apolitical, and non-confrontational ways such as creating digital artworks about food to engage with the public about anti-Asian racism and cross-cultural understanding. This functions as a creative and culturally sensitive strategy to conduct social and political activism and to enhance cross-cultural understanding. It also showcases the political potential and social relevance of digital art for a pandemic and even a post-pandemic world.