Cvetanka Rizvanovic – The Ultraviolet Underground

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Faculty mentor: Dr Colleen James

Artist’s Statement: As an avid environmentalist, I’ve recognized that Asian Americans are thoroughly ignored in discussions surrounding racism especially in the context of environmental justice. Through my piece “The Ultraviolet Underground” I illustrate that urban sustainability initiatives directly perpetuate environmental gentrification and the overlooked displacement of Asian Americans due to the “model minority” stereotype. I designed the ticket to include the slogan “Travel Sustainably” and “Destination: Displaced” to highlight that the implementation of sustainable development projects such as subways are often done under the guise of being environmentally conscious and beneficial for all despite the reality that the environmental advantages typically only apply to affluent White people. Through the statement, “Destination: Displaced” in combination with the posters in the subway, I reveal that the gentrification of Chinatown in San Francisco increases the living costs of the area through plans for a subway station, forcing Asian Americans out of their communities. I emphasize the shift from a cultural enclave to a commercially attractive area in Chinatown through my use of the Chinese kanji meaning “home” in invisible ink, as this shows that long-term residents are displaced from their homes. My application of invisible ink under ultraviolet light signifies that the injustices affecting Asian Americans are unacknowledged because of systemic racism. The ticket cost reflects environmental injustices, as residents of Chinatown are involuntarily relocated and their safety and health are compromised due to a lack of equitable environmental conditions. The surgical masks in my work tie into the disproportionate exposure to carcinogenic air that Asian Americans are exposed to. Ultimately, I portray the double injustice faced by Asian Americans by connecting the displacement they encounter due to false narratives of equitable sustainability with intersectional environmentalism.

View my art below!
Questions or comments? Contact me at: cveta281@yahoo.com

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