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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Seeking Gender Identity in the Contexts of Atayal: An Art Project


This paper examines and seeks to challenge fixed ideas relating to identity, gender, and belonging, which I explore in my art practice. Focusing on a central work, Perhaps She Comes From/To __ Alang, I explore ways that virtual reality—in a video and a website—can be employed to define and engage with my Indigenous and queer identity. This work uses digital video, performance, and cyberspace to reconstruct a sense of place and space that disengages from the traditional gender(ed) norms of what it means to be Atayal. My disconnected urban context prompts me to question what counts as an authentic pathway to reconnect with gaga (Atayal customs and traditional values). The journey of returning to a preconstructed identity needs to be redefined and discussed to embrace a queer sense of belonging. This paper engages with these notions by discussing cyberspace, live performance, and video installation as alternative spaces in which to thread indigeneity, the marginalised body, and queer visibility, and to reclaim screen sovereignty. Three different narratives that feature in my multimedia work—the story of Temahahoi, the story of the brass pots, and a personal story of my quiet queer body—are discussed. Through my work, these narratives engage with storytelling, Atayal worldview, and the Atayal language to re-examine the complexity of identity and the reclaiming of screen space in contemporary times.

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