COMMON MIGRATION SERIES
This series is a collection of projects that discuss the subject of global migration, based on my personal experience of moving from Thailand to Europe.
Three years of living as a Thai migrant in Europe has trained me to become more skilled in several aspects; not only in dealing with cultural differences, unknown languages, but also with diplomatic paperwork. Every little turning points of my life have been involved with proving myself to the immigration authority. Coming from a ‘developing country’ - in comparison to fellow Asian nationals such as Taiwan, Japan or Korea - for Thais, sometimes the procedure can much more complicated and costly. In spite of all the complaints there is, I do understand my position, situation and the necessity of these process. Nevertheless, this is what all aliens around the world has to deal with, not only me or immigrants in this continent.
Alien Alliances is made as an attempt to search for people with migration experience within my own personal circle. To figure out how many people that I know have been through this stage of life. Is being an alien still a special position to be or rather just a common part of life nowadays?
The 738 friends on Facebook are chosen as my field of research, and were printed out as icons to be identified. The process involves going through each individual's Facebook page and putting the colored sticker coding on top, according to the regions they originally from and have been immigrated to.
Yellow – Thailand
Red – Asia (Non-Thai)
Blue – Europe
Green – America
White – Australia
Brown – Africa
Violet – Non-Human
The Outer Circle is the nationality and origin of the person. The Inner Circle is the region the person have migrated to. The size of the circle is to identify the period of time the person has spend on that particular continent;
Half Circle is 2 – 5 years,
Full Circle is 1 – 2 years,
Black dot is for those who has stayed more than 5 years and currently resides there.
The issue of immigration reminds me the story often told by my dad - when he went across the world trying to settle his in the US during the 70-80's, and how he had to struggle. Back then it was considerably uncommon for Thai people to go abroad, and having an education from a western country in particular, used to be something limited to the extremely elites or national intelligences. But now it seems like everyone is doing so, or is having a goal to do so before starting professional life or getting married.
Unsurprisingly, the result of mapping makes it even more explicit to me that Thailand has changed rapidly in this past 20 years. More than half of my Facebook friends - reflecting a fragment of the middle-upper class young adult from a developing country - has flown to another part of the world and have lived in the continent that they were not originally from. As well as the circle around me has expanded to people from different parts of the world, many of which held the alien status as well.
Who You Gonna Call, Former Eye Museum in Vondel Park, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (July 2012)
What is the typical association of Thai women in the eye of others? I search ‘Thai Woman’ on Google Image in different languages out of curiosity. With ‘Thai Woman’ in Thai language; it shows a collection of yellowish, pale-skinned women, big eyes, bangs, Japanese like, and many in school uniforms. While in the English version, the results show more realistic mix of races. The olive skin, skinny, typical northeastern or southern look, are shown together with those with Chinese roots and yellowish skin.
By extracting only the skin part, it is more obvious to spot the patterns and differences between each results. ‘Thai Woman' in Dutch the amount of skin shown has increase, with nudity and several pornographic images. 'Thai Woman' in German is an extreme case, with only the olive-skins, along with a great amount of nudity and pornography.
Of course those who choose the term '... woman' has a particularly different agenda than those who use, '... people' as a keyword. However, this collection does reflect several stereotypical issues that Thailand has, on the image of sex-tourism that occur in different levels depending on the part of the world, and the narrowed perception on standard of female beauty from our own, Thai perspectives.
Comparison of google image search results of the word 'Thai Woman' in 4 different languages.
Eye Museum (Vondel Park) Amsterdam
Eye Museum (Vondel Park) Amsterdam