Far Near is a new book series dedicated to the conversation surrounding multi-national Asian identity. Curated by Lulu Yao Gioello, the publication expands the dominative ideas around Asia through intimate images and personal accounts of those within the Asian diaspora. Volume one centres around movement, featuring over 30 stories across 308 pages delicately bound together using exposed Swiss binding with a unique hand-stamped slip cover.
Founder and editor Lulu Yao Gioello is a New-York based art director. She started Far Near as a way to connect to her Taiwanese heritage having grown up in America. “I started Far Near as a way to see more non-stereotypical content from Asian creatives, while simultaneously celebrating our history connecting people beyond the man-made borders”, Lulu tells It’s Nice That. The publication covers a wide range of disciplines, from capturing the poised movement of contemporary dance to an article written by Ariana King examining the terminology of “immigration”. In this article, The Pushed and the Pulled Ariana offers a distinct perspective about how we use different words when referring to immigration. From “immigrant, alien, refugee, expat”, Ariana poignantly discusses our inherent associations with these terms with particular reference to the Rohingya exodus in Myanmar, as well as her own experiences living in Japan.
Below Lulu tells us more about the conception of Far Near and its sociopolitical objectives:
It’s Nice That: Why did you decide to start Far Near?
Lulu Yao Gioello: I grew up with my father who is fourth generation Bronx Italian. My mother moved back to Taiwan to pursue a choreography career when I was very young. Due to that, I latched onto as much Asian culture as I could get in New York. It was through this insider-outsider experience that I have been able to observe the way the West treats the East, and the way the East treats the West. It’s a complex dynamic that is predominantly the result of imperialism.
INT: What are your thoughts on how Asian culture is perceived in the West?
LYG: There is definitely a gap between what is seen as “Asian culture” and actual lived experiences of people with Asian heritage. A big issue is that in Western mainstream culture, being “Asian” means being Japanese, Chinese, Indian or Korean. The reality is that Asia is a massive landmass and the boundaries between Asia and Europe are ultimately imagined. Part of Far Near’s mission involves integrating all Asians in the conversation and open up perspectives of what is considered Asian today. We are Turkish, Russian, Thai, Armenian, Micronesian, Tibetan and many more. Asian stereotypes come from limitation and when we curtail what is known about a culture’s history — or its people and stories in the media — we lose a truthful sense of that culture.
INT: What are the main objectives of Far Near?
LYG: I want to create a publication that does not cater towards a Western audience. When we try too hard to explain our culture, we can lose the connection to our own people and we almost endorse this norm of being considered foreign. I would like Far Near to become a platform where both people with and without Asian heritage can learn new things and connect.
INT: Do you think the creative industries are becoming more representational culturally?
LYG: I think it’s important to create a space where individual’s can express their work and experience without boundaries. I do see our society steadily going in the right direction, for instance the Guggenheim’s new exhibition, Art and China after 1989: Theatre of the World. Also, the new editor of T Magazine, Hanya Yanagihara’s efforts to revamp the publication to better resonate with the multicultural demographic. Not to mention 88rising in the music industry and Humberto Leon in fashion. I think we also need to include Asian artists outside of the context of Asian art. In the past (at least in America), cultural representation has been formed by immigration and foreign policy — the government and media dictates the characteristics of an entire population. If the common thought can be that easily influenced, we need to take back control of median in an unapologetic and inclusive way, to capture the reality that different cultures bring to society.
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.