A visual interpretation of Chinese immigrants’ identity dilemma in New Zealand

Zhang, Nuo
Ho, King Tong
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Master of Art and Design
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Auckland University of Technology

This thesis explores the notion of identity dilemma and its visualisation in the context of New Zealand Chinese immigration. It focuses on interpreting and visualising New Zealand Chinese immigrants’ thoughts and feelings and their struggle to adapt to the environment as well as their ambivalent negotiation to balance their in-between identity of being a New Zealander (Westerner) and Chinese. It is a practice-based project and is presented by means of photography, with illustration as the supporting medium. The predicament of identity is explored through interviewing members of the New Zealand Chinese community. A semi-constructed interview is designed and introduced to canvass 20 Chinese participants’ opinions of their cultural beliefs and sense of belonging in a Western society. The data is collected and analysed to investigate the informants’ thoughts and feelings in their daily routine in a multicultural community. I, as an art and design practitioner, visually interpret and transcend my opinion of identity dilemma of Chinese immigrants into my practical works. The participants’ thoughts and feelings are transferred into my artwork through creating patterns of visual elements. Employing a heuristic visual research method, my explorative work attempts to transfer social research findings of the idea of identity dilemma into my artwork for initiating contemporary visual discourse.

Chinese immigrant , Identity dilemma , Visualisation , Heuristic , Qualitative approach , Immigrant experience
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