Hi! My name is Rui Jun Luong (1996), I’m a multidisciplinary designer with a main focus on Photography and Digital Design. I’m in my final year of Graphic and Time Based design at Art Acedamy Minerva in The Netherlands. I was born in The Netherlands, my parents are Chinese. This year I have to graduate. The work that I want to create is more money than expected, it’s not easy for me to ask for funding but without support I’m afraid I won't be able to create this work.
Photography has provided me with opportunities to travel, meet new people, and continue to challenge myself in new and unique ways. After several years taking self portraits. I started to capture strangers, through photography I felt connected with them. Photography is a way for me to express myself and to capture what I’m observing. How I see the world and what I find important. Growing up in the north of The Netherlands, there weren’t a lot of Asian people. When I was younger I never had any role models and people I could identify with. In my work I explore themes like identity, diversity, inclusivity and sustainability.
I focus on portrait and fashion photography with a strong emphasis on bold and creative styling. In my collages I create surreal worlds, where I bring my fantasy into reality with mixed-media. The world and the people inspire me every day to create. I’m always learning and try to experiment.
In the past year, I spoke up about racism against Asians in especially The Netherlands on Facebook and Instagram. I started discussions, shared my opinion, but I also exposed things from what I saw in the media.
There is little to no Asian representation in the mainstream media, especially in The Netherlands, and this causes problems. Unlike America, The Netherlands is not moving forward towards inclusivity. What is being shown are only stereotypes that create a certain view on how people think and act towards Asians. On the streets random strangers yell “Cunt Chinese” (Kut Chinees) "Ching, Chang, Chong ", and more racial slurs. In elementary school we are taught "Hankie Pankie Shanghai” and the teachers would tell us that it’s a " Chinese "birthday song and children will make slit eyes when singing it. (It doesn’t have a meaning)
When I was younger I was very embarrassed because I am Chinese. The fact that I have monolids, the food I eat, and when people were saying racial slurs to me. I was also bullied a lot because I am Chinese. I thought that the fact that I am Chinese was a disadvantage and this was the problem of the bullying. I didn’t want to be Chinese anymore. This caused depression and a lot of anxiety for me. When I think about this now I find it shocking that I had thoughts like this, because that’s exactly why I am fighting for racism towards Asians. I grew up now, and now I’m not ashamed anymore of who I am.
People don’t realize that these racial slurs can really hurt someone. The fact that it resulted in that I was are ashamed of who I am, and being ashamed of my own culture. Even to this day, I deal with people who yell racial slurs to me.
People don’t take this seriously and they will tell me that “It’s just a joke, don’t be so sensitive”, “There are bigger problems than this”. But when I spoke up, people also thanked me that I spoke up about this issue because it has been ignored by the masses.
So this resulted in being published at several websites, and people who wanted to interview me because I spoke up. I was also nominated for “De Jonge 100” (the young 100) in 2019 in the category “visionairs”
https://www.funx.nl/news/funx/41964-poepchinees-sambal-bij-of-spleetoog-aziaten-pikken-het-niet-langer https://www.meerdanbabipangang.nl/int-rui-jun-luong/ I also spoke about this at Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam. https://www.facebook.com/events/1149916785203290/
I'm also in Pete Wu's book, "Bananengeneratie" (Bananageneration) which is about the Chinese in The Netherlands which was released in 2019! https://dasmag.nl/shop/pete-wu-de-bananengeneratie
For my graduation project I wanted to do something with what I’ve been doing in my spare time. Speaking up about racism towards Asians, and creating awareness for this.
I remember not having any role models when growing up, and not wanting to be Chinese anymore. This is something I want to prevent for the future generation. A future where there are no stereotypes, and which is inclusive for everyone. In the media they portray Asians/Chinese people as “weird” as if we are not people. I want to change this view of what people have about Asians in the Western media. I want to show that we Asians can be shown as “normal” people in the media, and not the stereotypes what is shown now.
A lot of people often forget that Chinese people are not the only “Asians”. There are over 48+- different countries in Asia. So I want to organize various photo shoots with 20 different individuals with all a different Asian background and create a “Guess who” to make a statement that not all Asians look the same. With this game, I also want to open a discussion. To show that we are not the stereotype that many people think.
When playing the game, you have to look closely at the people how they look. They all have different features, and they are all different people. The thing that they all have in common is that they have roots from Asia. But, they are more than their background. They are people, and they have their own stories, backgrounds and this is also something I want to tell the audience. They are all an individual, instead of thinking that they are all the same.
The money donated will be all used to fund for the materials to create the work, studio costs, the team, food, exhibition materials, prints, the publication of the work and other expenses.
Deadline for my graduation project is May/June. I would love to thank and invite you to my end graduation show in July, Groningen.
If you want to help me in another way you can fill in this survey: https://www.survio.com/survey/d/T4T9E5K4D8A4K8E7E
If you would like to get some more information, don’t hesitate to contact me: Dutch & English
- Eva Kandhai
- Terry Tao
- Caimi Chu
- Angelique Voorberg