From 1863 – 1869, Central Pacific Railroad employed 20,000 emigrant Chinese as manual laborers to construct the western half of the Pacific railway, the first transcontinental railroad that bridged the east and west coasts of the US. Collectively, these “railroad Chinese” laid 690 miles of tracks under harsh conditions with low pay. Historical records rarely identified these workers. Railroad payrolls have a scant list of their names, often anglicized. The 3-channel video projection memorializes these silent workers by embedding over 100 names that scholars have been able to recover into the landscape in Promontory, UT where the workers labored. The sculpture, comprised of 36 pillars held together by black steel bands, uses the motif of a deconstructed circle to convey the struggle for connection. The effect is also one of a never-ending rail line. Together, the video and sculpture situate the viewer in a space that is both unified and fractured, historically significant but forgotten.
- Art form: 3-D
- Depth: 25'
- Medium: Three channel video projection, Wood, Metal
- Width: 25'
- Year created: 2021
- Height: 8'
About Project Unity
Yuge Zhou (Concept and Video) + Hwa-Jeen Na (Sculpture concept and Fabrication); Hwa-Jeen Na is a portrait photographer and film director based in Michigan. His projects focus on exploring definitions of identity. Yuge Zhou is a Chinese born, Chicago-based video artist whose work addresses connections, isolation and longing across natural and urban spaces.