(Dis)Placed in Sunset Park: Through the Voices of Immigrant Stories” an interactive media project by Betty Yu

(Dis)Placed in Sunset Park is a work-in-progress interactive web-based interactive documentary project explores the impact of urban gentrification and displacement on long time immigrant residents in a Sunset Park working class Brooklyn neighborhood of New York City, that I grew up in. This project is in the research and production stages.   

Detailed Description:

(Dis)Placed in Sunset Park, is a web-based interactive documentary project that will feature 5-7 minute videos of mainly Latino and Chinese immigrants, workers and residents in Brooklyn’s diverse Sunset Park neighborhood in New York City. The common theme among their stories is the shared narrative of migration to the U.S., their journey to Sunset Park and the fear of displacement as a result of rising rents. Each story will be grounded in the subject’s own sense of home, sanctuary and refuge that they have found in the Sunset Park neighborhood.  Each edited story will feature an interview, Broil of their home, personal photographs and video (when possible) along with verite footage of their life in Sunset Park.

Growing up in Sunset Park, I straddled what was often referred to as the “Two Sunset Parks” - the Chinatown part and Latino part. It’s widely known that 6th Avenue is the dividing line. Growing up there I had Chinese and Latino friends.  I have fond memories of navigating between the Chinese-speaking immigrant thoroughfares of 8th Avenue the 5th Avenue park-side of the Spanish-speaking neighborhood. These “Two Sunset Parks” are filled with distinct languages, food, local shops, restaurants churches, temples, street festivals, and traditions. 

In the past fifteen years, New York City has experienced an acceleration of gentrification, with working class and immigrant communities being displaced and uprooted from their homes and communities. NYC Mayor DeBlasio unveiled a plan last year to rezone fifteen neighborhoods, making way for more luxury housing and big box stores. Brooklyn’s immigrant neighborhood of Sunset Park is among one of the hardest hit by gentrification.

I was born and raised in Sunset Park and I am concerned about the impact of gentrification on the neighborhood and how the cultural fabric, community life and the demographic of Sunset Park will transform dramatically in the coming decade. For the past five decades, Sunset Park has been one of the most diverse neighborhoods in NYC with majority of its residents being working class immigrants. Rent prices are rising rapidly and homeownership is still relatively low among the immigrant working class Latino and Chinese population.  Since the late 1990’s the neighborhood has become a home to a wide array of Central American, Caribbean, Chinese and now Middle Eastern immigrants speaking more than 50 different dialects and languages. Up until the 1970’s the neighborhood was largely made up of Norwegian and Scandinavian immigrants. In the mid 1970’s waves of Puerto Ricans and Chinese immigrants trickled in, solidly shifting the demographics by the 1980’s. I am really interested in how immigrants created a sense of “home” here, especially when they have been uprooted from their home often for economic or political reasons.  Many of these immigrant families who are forced to move are the hardest hit by the multiple layers of capitalist-driven global and local displacement. As a Chinese-American who grew up in this neighborhood in the 1980’s and 90’s, I want to capture and convey the culturally rich, vibrant and diverse Sunset Park. My hope is that the project will serve as a living archive of oral histories. 

"El futuro de Sunset Park: a través de las voces de historias de inmigrantes" es un proyecto basado en la web lanzado por Betty Yu con el apoyo de la Fundación Dedalus. El proyecto contará con cortos videos de 2 a 3 minutos que contarán con inmigrantes latinos y chinos y residentes en el vecindario Sunset Park, permitiéndoles una plataforma para contar su propia historia de inmigración y el viaje que los trajo
a vivir o trabajar en Sunset Park.

El objetivo del proyecto es permitir un espacio creativo para la gente común de todas las edades que se ven afectadas directamente por la inmigración y los cambios en el vecindario para tener una salida para expresar lo que Sunset Park ha significado para ellos y cuáles son sus esperanzas para el futuro. Será un foro para los miembros de la comunidad y el público en general para escuchar las historias ricas y variadas de los residentes de Sunset Park.

“日落公園的未來:通過移民故事的言辭” 是一個, 江敏詩, 創辦的網絡項目。項目中會放映兩、三分鐘的短片,給拉丁、華裔移民者、日落公園社區的鄰居一個媒體台來說出他們自己的移民故事、來到日落公園居住或工作的遊記。

This project has been developed through Betty Yu's artist residency at International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP) in New York City. Check out photos from the ISCP Open Studios on April 21st and 22nd, 2017.

 "Sunset Park: Immigrant Stories"  at International Studio and Curatorial Program Open Studios, April 2017

"Sunset Park: Immigrant Stories"  at International Studio and Curatorial Program Open Studios, April 2017