I Stand Between 两种文化的夹缝之间

May 27, 2019 2019年5月27日
Mia Rubin was 23 when the photo was taken in February 2017. She was adopted from Maoming, China, when she was 4 months old.Mia Rubin,出生于中国茂名市,在4个月大时被领养。照片于2017年2月拍摄,当时她23岁。

“Mom, did I ever live inside of you? She answered, ‘No, you didn’t.'”

This conversation between Mia Rubin and her mother has stuck with her since childhood. She’s felt the answer’s faint yet insistent sting deep within all her life, never quite fading away.

The colorful portrait of Rubin above is by Mengwen Cao, an artist from Hangzhou who now lives and works in New York. In 2012 she moved to the US for grad school, and immersed in that foreign culture, she found her calling as a photographer. The portrait is part of her series I Stand Between, which she began after living in the US for four years. “When I was back in China, people thought I was too American; when I was in the U.S., they thought I was too Chinese. So where do I belong? The feeling of not being embraced by both places I consider home is what inspired me to seek out people who might share similar experiences.”


“‘妈妈,我以前在你的肚子里待过吗?’她说不,你没有。”Mia Rubin 回忆起小时候的她曾是这么问过。在听到回答后,心底那股隐约而坚实的刺痛感扎根在她成长的每一道轨迹里,不曾淡去过。

而在上方那张色彩斑斓的 Mia 的照片背后,是来自杭州的摄影师曹梦雯。她于 2012 年离开中国前往美国就学,在异乡找到自己的人生志业——摄影师,之后一直生活在纽约。

在开始此拍摄项目《I STAND BETWEEN》之前,她在美国生活了四年多的时间,“当我回到中国,人们觉得我太美国;当我在美国,人家又觉得我太中国。我到底属于何方?这种夹在两种文化之间、不被双方接受的感受,促使我想要找到更多与我拥有相同经历的人。”

Cao’s own experiences as queer played a role in her desire to explore the stories of people with non-traditional backgrounds. So for this photo series, she focused on Asian adoptees who grew up in white families.

With the help of friends, social media, and nonprofits, she found several subjects to sit for her. Ranging in age, they come from China, Korea, and Indonesia, and most were adopted into the U.S. as babies. “Before the potential interviewees felt 100% on board, I met up with them and just chatted without recording or taking photos,” Cao says. “Transracial adoption is still a sensitive and complicated topic. I am extremely grateful for those who agreed to participate in the project and shared their experience in such an honest and vulnerable way.”

The portraits were mostly taken at the subjects’ homes. Facing the camera, they seem to reveal their innermost thoughts directly to us. No matter your age, gender, or position, opening up about your vulnerabilities is something that takes a lot of courage. Her photos are full of intimacy and complexity—a valuable record of human stories.


曹梦雯也坦承自己的同志身份,让她更有欲望去探索那些拥有非传统背景的人的故事。因此在这个拍摄项目中,她设定了这样的人物背景——被白人家庭领养的亚洲小孩。

通过朋友介绍、社群软件、和非营利组织的帮助,她找到了多位符合条件的拍摄对象。他们的年龄分布广泛,来自中国、韩国、以及印尼,大多都是在婴儿时期就被领养至美国。“在确定他们百分之百愿意拍摄之前,我会先和他们单纯聊天。跨种族领养是一个敏感的话题,对于这些愿意参与拍摄的人们,诚实、不掩脆弱地和我分享他们的经历,我非常感激。”

拍摄通常在被摄者的家中进行。他们的脸庞对着镜头,好像直接在向我们吐露心事一样。无论年龄、性别、地位,要在陌生人面前揭开自己脆弱的一面,是多么需要勇气的一件事情。她的摄影蕴含丰富的私密情节和复杂性,使之成为一种捕捉人情故事的最珍贵纪录。

With the conclusion of the project, Cao reflected on all the stories she had heard. She thought back to when she first arrived in the U.S. and how she felt like she needed to adapt and integrate into local culture; she felt like she needed to consistently defy Chinese stereotypes in order to become an “authentic” American. But today, she’s come to terms with who she is: a cultural in-betweener. She now cherishes the fact that she’s able to engage with both cultures, and sees these experiences as having made her stronger. Embracing her differences has helped Cao realize her distinctive place in the world.


而在计划结束,搜集了这么多故事之后,曹梦雯也思考许多。从以前刚到美国,自觉自己需要努力地去适应、融入异乡文化、或是不断地为针对中国人的刻板印象去做反驳,才能让自己成为一个正宗的美国人;到现在,她已完全释怀自己作为“生活在两种文化夹缝中”的人,这其实是一件能让自己的生命更为坚强的美好经历。差异,反而能让自己变得与众不同。

Una was 11 when the photo was taken in May 2017. She was adopted from Korea when she was 9 months old.Una,出生于韓国,在9个月大时被领养。照片于2017年5月拍摄,当时她11岁。
Pauline Park, a writer, was 58 when the photo was taken in April 2017. She was adopted from Korea when she was 7½ months old. Pauline Park是一位作家,出生于韓国,在7个月半大时被领养。照片于 2017 年 4 月拍摄,当时她 58 岁。

“The concept of authenticity kept coming up in my conversations with the adoptees,” Cao says. “But the word ‘authenticity’ implies that there’s only one truth. After talking to them, I realized that authenticity means embracing all the differences of our multifaceted identity. There is no one way to be American or Asian.”

In addition to taking their photos, Cao recorded a conversation with each one of her subjects, letting us hear for ourselves as they tell their own stories. Below are some of their photos and audio recordings. (You can listen to the whole series on Cao’s website.)


曹梦雯也分享道,“在和他们谈话的途中,关于‘真实性’的问题一直浮现在我的脑海。我后来明白,所谓真实,就是拥抱自己所有与别人不一样的地方,接受自己的多重身份。世界上本来就不只有一种当‘美国人’或是‘亚洲人’的方式。”

除了拍摄下他们的照片,曹梦雯还为每一位受访者录下访谈的语音,让我们能够亲耳听见他们诉说自己的故事。以下将展示一部分受访者的音频和照片(完整报导请至网站观看):


 

Cydney Blitzer

Cydney Blitzer was 19 when the photo was taken in February 2017. She was adopted from Hunan, China, when she was 8 months old.Cydney Blitzer,出生于中国湖南省,在8个月大时被领养。照片于2017年2月拍摄,当时她19岁。
“We don’t really identify ourselves as anything except adopted.”

 

“I’ve always known that I was adopted, but she has never been anything less than my mother. Honestly, putting labels on it—adopted mother, adopted daughter—undermines the significance of the relationship. My mom was the one who had to listen to the ignorant remarks of people who were like ‘Where did you buy her?'”


“除了被领养的小孩,我们从来不认同自己还有什么其他身份”

 

“我一直都知道自己是被领养的,她对我而言的意义从来不少于一位母亲。老实讲,在我们之间贴上‘领养母亲’、‘领养女儿’的标签,是在削弱我们关系的重要性。我妈妈总是需要面对那些无知的评论,例如‘你是从哪里买到她的?’”


 

Nam Holtz

Nam Holtz was 43 when the photo was taken in April 2017. She was adopted from Korea when she was 6 months old. Nam Holtz,出生于韓国,在6个月大时被领养。照片于2017年4月拍摄,当时她43岁。

“I look this way, but I feel another way.”

 

“He would look at me across the dinner table and speak to me in Korean to me and expect me to understand. And he was at completely lost cause he looked around at all these white faces like ‘What the heck is going on?’ And as a five-year-old kid, I felt really stressed out and guilty that I couldn’t understand him . . . I think it was too much for me, and I started taking Pseudoephed.”


“我看起来是这个样子,但我不觉得自己是这样”

 

“他从餐桌那头看着我,对我说韩语,希望我听得懂。然后他看着一整桌的白人的脸,感觉自己迷失了,心想‘这里到底发生什么事了?’当时只有五岁的我,我感到压力很大和内疚,没办法听懂他……这对我来说太多了,那是我开始吃药“伪麻黄素”的时候(Pseudoephedrine,一种美国常见的药物,通常用于治疗过敏或感冒。)”


 

Emily Roe

Emily Roe was 26 when the photo was taken in April 2017. She was adopted from China when she was 4 months old.Emily Roe,出生于中国,在4个月大时被领养。照片于2017年4月拍摄,当时她26岁。

“I was born in Asia but I’m just very American.”

 

“There’s always a part of me to be this entity that has like dealt with being ‘outcasted’ in different ways. From being adopted, to my learning disability, to my experience of being an Asian person in a very white area, and even this ostracization from other Asian people. Growing up I have this very complicated relationship with Asian people because I felt very judged and very unaccepted.”


“我虽然在亚洲出生,但我就是非常美国”

 

“从我自己本质上的很多方面看来,我总是被排斥在外的那一个。从我是被领养的小孩、我的学习障碍、到我在一个非常白的环境中作为一个亚洲人,以及甚至被其他亚洲群体所排挤。成长过程中,我一直有这种和其他亚洲人之间的复杂关系,我总是觉得我非常被批评、不被接受。”


 

Nicole Maloof

Nicole Maloof, was 35 when the photo was taken in April 2017. She was adopted from Korea when she was 3 months old and grew up in Massachusetts.Nicole Maloof,出生于韩国,在3个月大时被领养。照片于2017年4月拍摄,当时她35岁。
“I wonder, was being raised in United States worth the pain my mother had to go through in giving up a child?

 

“I have dreamed about my birth mother’s face as long as I can remember. I didn’t have any idea what she would look like, and I couldn’t even imagine a family member that looked like me cause I’ve never experienced it. So I contacted this adoption agency, Holt. Within six months, Holt had managed to contact my birth family and we met. I saw these two strangers there, my mom and her older sister. But as soon as we hugged, my mom apologized.”


“如果我妈妈必须承受放弃一个孩子的痛苦,让我在美国长大,我在想这样值得吗?”

 

“从我记得以来,我一直梦到我亲生妈妈的脸。我完全不知道她的长相,也无法想像任何一个长得像我的家庭成员,因为我没有那种经历。我联系了当初的领养机构 Holt,然后等待。差不多等了半年,Holt 找到我的亲生妈妈了。见面时,我看到两个陌生人站在我面前,一个是我母亲,另一个是她的姐姐。接着我妈妈拥抱了我,向我道歉。”


 

Mathew Luce

Mathew Luce was 25 when his portraits below were taken in May 2017. He was adopted from Indonesia by two dads.Mathew Luce,出生于印尼,被两位爸爸所领养。照片于2017年5月拍摄,当时他25岁。
“I feel at home, though I’m in the middle ground of being Asian and kind of white.”

 

“When I hang out with my Asian friends, they always say ‘You’re so white! The way you talk, the way you express your feelings, and especially the way you eat.’ I’ll say ‘Thank you. Just like my dad.’ . . . I’m proud that I’m Asian, and I’m proud that sometimes I act white. It’s just me. That’s how I grew up.”


“我感到很自在,即使我身在亚洲人和有一点“白”的中间”

 

“当我和亚洲朋友在一起玩时,他们总会说‘你好白!你讲话、或表达想法的方式,尤其你吃东西的时候。’我会回答‘谢谢,就像我的爸爸一样。’……我为我是一个亚洲人感到骄傲,也为我有时候表现得像白人感到骄傲。这就是我,我就是这样长大的。”

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Contributor: Yang Yixuan
English Translation: David Yen


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供稿人: Yang Yixuan
中译英: David Yen