In collaboration with Every Stitch Considered by Nike, Document shines a light on innovative creators who are expanding our cultural landscape through acts of exploration, process and education.
Lulu Yao Gioiello did not intend to create her own publication. But in the end, that is what she did, because while looking for work from Asian designers, she realized that there was no platform in the literary space dedicated to uplifting their voice. “At the time, I was talking to different friends and artists about what they want to express and I have a hard time going out because people kind of limit their options,” she says. “I met an Iranian artist, for example, who is not a religious person, but her art is categorized as Islamic art because it uses Farsi. I was like woah, why isn’t there a space for Asians to show what they can do without being categorized into these imposed categories? I realized that these types of spaces didn’t exist yet, and my friend said to me, “You could create one. “
It was then that Gioiello founded FAR CLOSE, a curated cross-cultural book series that broadens perspectives of Asia by offering individuals a space to explore their identity on their own terms, whether to deepen their cultural heritage or to unlearn the idea that it must dictate their artistic interests. “Asians are often referred to as the ‘silent minority’ in the West, portrayed through the foreign eye and painted as ‘the other,’ writes Gioiello in his first letter to the editor. “With this series, I challenge both the artist and the observer to step out of the sometimes invisible limits that surround them, to question what is known and to go beyond what is readily available; respect the past while looking forward to the future.
“I don’t think it’s up to me to tell someone how they relate to their own identity, or their culture, or the theme that we have. It’s all in their voice.
The resulting book – a delicately bound volume, printed and organized each year – is just as multifaceted as Gioiello had imagined. The three currently published issues provide a portal to individual stories, family recipes, coming-of-age stories, poetry and photography, giving people of Asian descent a space to freely create and record. their experiences without appealing to the interests of a Western audience. “I try not to dictate what people submit,” says Gioiello. “I don’t think it’s up to me to tell someone how they relate to their own identity, or their culture, or the theme that we have. It’s all in their voice.
FAR CLOSEThe first issue of, centered on the theme “movement”, explores the concept in general terms: movement as “an act of taking control of one’s body, of changing physical or mental position, of arriving and starting while working. together for thought. ”It presents meditations on themes as diverse as chronic disease, immigration, homosexuality, lost family history and the origin of symbols and language, with contributions from over 30 artists and creators working in various disciplines.
In one piece, ‘Le Poussé and Le Tiré’, FAR CLOSE Editor-in-Chief Ariana King interprets the theme of the movement as it relates to global conflicts and immigration policy. “There are those who find themselves drawn to the promise of something better, and those who are driven by something worse where they come from,” writes King, exploring class divisions among those starting a new one. life by personal enrichment, or necessity: expatriates against immigrants. In another play, Gioiello interviews Porochista Khakpour, an Iranian-American writer whose books often feature characters struggling with generational shifts and diasporic identities.
In many ways, the project grew out of Gioiello’s desire to learn and connect with his own story. “I’m half Taiwanese. I’ve always identified as Asian and looked that way, but I didn’t really grow up with my Asian side. I always had the impression of being an initiate-outside, ”she explains. It is an experience that Gioiello shares with many FAR CLOSEcontributors: “There has never been a time in all the years that I have lived in America that I have been allowed to truly be an American,” writes Kee Byung-keun. “[Yet] not being in Korea for so many years had cost me any chance to become Korean again. Next to these travel experiences, however, is the joy and discovery: of family recipes, historical artefacts, memories and experiences recovered after generations of absence.
“Because Asian culture is very private, you can sometimes lose the story,” says Gioiello, explaining that the desire to know more about his family of origin is made all the more complicated by generational differences. “A lot of times a young writer or photographer will want to connect with their family and hear about their past, but their parents or grandparents don’t want to talk about it. With the younger generations of contributors, people are so open and determined to capture what they are feeling in the moment. I wanted to FAR CLOSE be something tangible and archival, which could be passed down from generation to generation.
With themes as varied as “taste”, “movement” and “devotion”, each edition of FAR CLOSE brings together a diverse set of voices from Japan to Iran, providing individuals with a space to explore Asian culture from within and unlearn the dominant model that is so often internalized due to Western culture. As Chef Bo Songvisava states in FAR CLOSE‘s second edition, “We should preserve the tradition because at the very least we should know our roots, where we come from and, hopefully, know where we are when we undergo a change.”
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