Boundless: An Introduction

By Sumarlinah Raden Winoto

Photograph by Leah Jing

Photograph by Leah Jing


it’s complicated —

it’s complicated — a very worn phrase. how often have you uttered this sentence, shame rising up your neck, when someone asks why your eyebrows are so dark, your name so long, your skin that shade, your tongue that clumsy?

 it’s complicated — a phrase often spoken in apology. apology for your family’s audacity, apology for your long introduction. the contradictions, the explanations, the jokes to lighten the mood.

it’s complicated — a phrase that tries to excuse being vast, being whole, being complex, human. that minimises the stories you were born from, draw strength from, learn from, carry in you.

in a heavily racialised world, where treatment is determined by the colour of your skin, sound of your name, or an array of other things outside your control, embodying markers for contradictory groups can be complicated and confusing.

it’s a lifelong task to explain yourself, which parts of you belong to which category, always knowing you’re being deemed as not completely worthy of any full designation.

navigating a world organised through pigeonholing people, being mixed race can sometimes mean being left out. it can also mean getting pulled in. it is a delicate balance, a tugging between worlds, somehow living in a vacuum where the points of orientation morph into their opposites at whim.

how to be fluid? or rather: how can we be anything but fluid? i only know how to be me, a person born into multiple families, of multiple religions, nations, histories and cultures. i only know how to embody all of these things. i cannot chisel myself into one solid thing. being mixed is not a single thing. it is everything, and something else entirely. an in-between, limbo, a liminal experience.

when we tried to come up with a name for this curation, it took us many weeks. it is hard to talk about being mixed without resorting to vague, wispy, abstract language.

english does not have room for us.
english does not know how to think of us.

because english is a language of boundaries, a language of rules, borders, classifications. being mixed race means our ancestors defied those borders, and we embody that defiance. so. welcome to boundless, a space to unfurl and extend every curl, shade, shape and thought you have been trained to keep in tidy segregated spaces.

a space where you are invited to be your whole messy self, to see the vastness in your multiplicity, and celebrate your hidden stories. a space where all intersections are uncovered, every contradiction accepted, every mixture held with warmth love and admiration.

Sumarlinah Raden Winoto
CURATOR, Boundless



Boundless is a new project which considers the experience of
mixed-race Asian-Australians. Curated by Sumarlinah raden winoto,
‘Boundless’ will span forms, a series of art, photographs & conversations.

Leah McIntosh