Born a Problem
A Multimedia Exhibition by Paula Te & Edward Gunawan

A multimedia exhibition by artist Paula Te and poet Edward Gunawan, BORN A PROBLEM investigates the invisible historical forces that impact present-day culture, society, politics–and ultimately: our sense of personal flourishing and communal belonging.

Born a Problem: A Multimedia Exhibition by Paula Te & Edward Gunawan

Exhibition Dates:
May 1–12, 2024

Gallery Hours:
Wednesday–Saturday: 3 PM – 8 PM
Sunday: 2 PM – 8 PM

Sliding Scale Tickets $0–30

All Ages

Standing Gallery show; seated artist talks

View our FAQ page for more info, or contact us at [email protected] with any accommodation requests.

Gallery Hours have been extended to May 12! Starting May 5, visits will be by appointment only. Please email [email protected] to schedule your visit.

About Born A Problem

In 1965, a CIA-aided military coup marked the beginning of a tumultuous period in Indonesia. The new authoritarian government, perceiving a "Chinese Problem," initiated a series of anti-Chinese policies from 1967-2000: Chinese language names barred on official documents, Chinese language media and schools shuttered, while public celebrations of cultural festivals such as Chinese New Year were banned.

These exclusionist and forced assimilation laws, echoing the Indian Treaties & the Removal Act, the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, and the Immigration Act of 1924 in the United States, fostered resentment and discrimination that led to massacres and sexual violence against the Indonesian Chinese community in 1965 and 1998.

This multimedia exhibition by artist Paula Te and poet Edward Gunawan (who are both of Chinese Indonesian descent) takes the form of erasure poems based on actual laws from this dark chapter of history. The large-scale interactive installation contains the context behind the redacted text, revealed through augmented reality (AR).

A smaller-scale proof-of-concept display of this work was presented at From the Margins group show at The Fishbowl in Seattle, WA (Feb 2024).

Events Schedule

Sunday, April 28
5:30 – 7:30 PM

Opening Reception

Born A Problem Opening Reception in celebration of National Poetry Month, featuring:

Lee Herrick, current California Poet Laureate
Kim Shuck, 7th San Francisco Poet Laureate
Ayodele Nzinga, current Oakland Poet Laureate
Michelle Lin, co-host


Wednesday, May 1
5:30 – 7:30 PM

Artist Talk

An evening with the lead artists behind the hybrid installation to learn more of the inspiration, creative process, and the intended impact of the project:

Paula Te, exhibition’s artist & co-lead organizer
Edward Gunawan, exhibition’s writer & co-lead organizer
Colin Sullivan, exhibition’s soundscape artist


Friday, May 3
5:30 – 7:30 PM

Panel Discussion

An evening of conversation with scholars specializing in Indonesian/South East Asian history and cultural studies that will explore the profound impact of global geo-political events in the 1960s, and their relevance to our present and future, featuring:

Dr. Viola Lasmana
Reuven Pinnata
Vincent Bevins
Jessica Elkind


Sunday, May 5
2:30 – 4:30 PM

Workshop: Erasure Poem

Erasing oppression :: re/claiming power, a blackout poetry workshop.
Led by Jason Wyman of Queerly Complex, this workshop will engage participants in erasing oppression and re/claiming power.


Sunday, May 5
5:00 – 7:00 PM

Closing Reading

Featuring musical performance by Gamelan Sekar Jaya & readings by a line-up of all-Indonesian diaspora writers:

Cynthia Dewi Oka
Edward Gunawan
Jeddie Sophronius
Giovanna Lomanto
May-Li Khoe


Lead Artists

Paula Te

Paula Te designs and builds interfaces at the intersection of learning, crafting, and culture. She specializes in hybrid digital-physical artifacts and environments that explore alternative visions of the future. Her practice centers community and people from diverse backgrounds, welcoming folks to co-create and contribute their vision of the future, allowing for multiplicities of experiences to unfold.

Paula built a platform named Collaboratura as an Instigator Fellow for the San Francisco Opera (2022-2023) to explore tools for creative collaboration across disciplines in the creative arts. She was previously a design researcher at Dynamicland (2015-2019), investigating a new computational medium woven into physical space. Her work on digital fabrication and interfaces has been featured in Ars Electronica, SIGCHI Interaction Design & Children and Eyeo Festival.

A believer of bridging cross-cultural connection through sustainable community craft, she was a Dinacon Node Leader in Sri Lanka (2022) and facilitated the creation of a recycling machine that turns plastic waste into raw material for new products (2022). Her mini-zine on decolonization has been published in the Interwoven: Black/Asian Solidarities Zine (2022). Born to Indonesian-Chinese immigrants in the US, Paula currently resides in Duwamish, Seattle, Washington state. Visit paulate.com for more info.

Edward Gunawan

Edward Gunawan is a storytelling artist and cultural producer whose multimedia projects and community work meditates upon themes of displacement and (be)longing, healing and intimacy, kinship and citizenship within the contexts of post-colonial queer transnationality.

A queer immigrant from Indonesia and of Chinese heritage, Edward is the author of chapbooks The Way Back (winner of Start a Riot! Prize, Foglifter Press, 2022) and Press Play (Sweet Lit, 2020), and has completed over 25 feature and short films as writer, producer, actor, and/or director. Their last two producing projects—How to Win at Checkers (Every Time) and By the Time It Gets Dark—premiered in Berlin and Locarno respectively, and were both honored as Thailand's Best Foreign Language Film entries for the Academy Awards. Edward served as the Featured Film Artist at Kearny Street Workshop’s 2021 APAture multi-disciplinary arts festival, and their work has been published in TriQuarterly, Aquifer, and The Town anthology (Nomadic Press, 2023), amongst others.

Now residing on Ohlone land in Oakland, Edward is the founder and lead organizer of HOME MADE @ ARTogether—a series of literary arts gatherings that connects, cultivates, and celebrates the stories and storytellers of immigrant and refugee backgrounds in the Bay Area. They also curate and facilitate community gatherings such as “Stories of Marin” mental health storytelling workshop for National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) Marin County and “Press Play: Exhibition” at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center to normalize and destigmatize mental health conversations—for which, they have received support from California Arts Council, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, City of Oakland Cultural Funding Program, and East Bay Community Foundation. Visit addword.com for more info.


Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center

APICC proudly presents the annual United States of Asian America Festival (USAAF), showcasing diverse artistic works in music, dance, film, visual art and more from API artists throughout San Francisco.

The Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center’s (APICC) mission is to support and present multidisciplinary art reflective of the unique experiences of Asian Pacific Islanders living in the United States.

APICC was founded in 1996 by representatives of five nonprofit arts groups: Asian American Dance Performances, First Voice, Asian Improv aRts, the Asian American Theater Company, and Kearny Street Workshop. Since 1998, the center has promoted the artistic and organizational growth of San Francisco’s API arts community by organizing and presenting the annual United States of Asian America Festival as well as commissioning contemporary art for and by the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.


HOME MADE @ ARTogether is an intimate literary arts gatherings that connect, cultivate, and celebrate the stories and storytellers from immigrant and refugee communities

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