Thursday, July 20, 2017
Fatal Love; Lucid Dreams and Distant Visions

This summer the Queens Museum in conjunction with the Asia Society’s Lucid Dreams and Distant Visions: South Asian Art in the Diaspora hosted a three-day event that brought together renown South Asian American artists, academics, and curators. The symposium, titled Fatal Love: Where are We Now?, celebrated contemporary South Asian American art and explored issues concerning the South Asian American diaspora.

Photo by Bob Lee
This event was not the first the Queens Museum hosted. Back in 2005, the museum hosted a very similar event, called Fatal Love: South Asian American Art Now. This symposium was created and curated as a response to the increased policing of South Asians in the post-9/11 era and the growing South Asian American artistic community. Since then, there have been significant changes in the South Asian American community and art world. Fatal Love: Where are We Now?, as its title indicates, asks and answers where the South Asian American artistic community is now, twelves years later. It is a sequel to the first Fatal Love, yet also the first of its kind: delving into new, interesting topics.  

Photo by Bob Lee

This year’s three day event held back-to-back performances, panels, and lectures, all of which were recorded and can be viewed on the Queens Museum’s YouTube page. Day 1, which was held at the Asia Society, included an introductory speech by those who made this even possible a panel discussion called Double Duty: Agency and Cultural Production. The following two days were held at the Queens Museums and included panels discussions from sculpture and photography to public art and queer theory. These panels were not only about the art pieces, but larger issues at hand.

Photo by Bob Lee
In addition to these panels and performances, the open exhibit included works by Shahxia Sikander, Kanishka Raja, and Jaret Vadera and many more. Furthermore, AAAC has exhibited various artists from this exhibit including Chitra Ganesh, Mariam Ghani, Vandana Jain, Naeem Mohaiemen, and Zarina. These artists used different mediums and engaged in different dialogues.

Shahzia Sikander, Eye-i-ing Those Amorial Bearings, 1989-97, vegetable, dry pigment, tea on wasli paper.

Add caption Kanisha Raja, I and I (TRANSLATE); SW1, 2015-16, handwoven cotton thread, hand embroidered silk, acrylic pain, and UV-cured solvent-based inks on cotton.
Jaret Vardera, Emperor of No Country, 2016, print on fabric. 
Fatal Love accomplished -- most spectacularly -- in bringing together artists, curators, academics, and the public to have a rich and engaging dialogue about the issues confronting the South Asian American community, particularly in light of the recent 2016 presidential election. It is an event the Queens Museum should continue to host in the coming years, as they should continue to ask: Where are We Now?
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A Tribute to Toshio Sasaki

This year marks 10th year since world-renown sculptor and architect, Toshio Sasaki (1946 - 2007), passed away. He was one of the main artists AAAC worked with during his long career. By the end, he vied to bring his aesthetic ideas to the World Trade Center memorial and came close to achieving it. To commemorate him and his work, this summer the OSSAM Gallery in Brooklyn hosted a memorial exhibition that included his works, as well as works by well-known artist, Osamu Shimoda (1924 - 2000). These two extraordinary artists, born in Japan and later based in the United States, bridged the gap between the East and the West. Sasaki, in particular, fused the East and West in his creative and illuminating sculptural and architectural designs.

Born in Kyoto, Japan in 1947, Toshio Sasaki studied art and architecture at the Aichi University of Fine Arts. He later moved into New York City in 1974, creating fantastic works in public spaces. In 1988, he exhibited Sun Gate, a drawing, for AAAC’s Exhibit for Public Art in Chinatown and it was later included in AAAC’s catalogue.

Sun Gate by Toshio Sasaki, 1988 

The piece is a sketch of the Manhattan Bridge and an idea for a monument to its entrance. According to Sasaki, “I hope the Gate will impart a new ‘time’ irradiation to the old society, and traditional meanings. I think of this Sun Gate rising like a phoenix from the ashes of its own urban past.” Although the gate was never constructed, it shows Sasaki’s understanding of complex geometric forms and principles, as well as his knowledge of the neighborhood and its history. 

Sasaki’s interest and creativity in designing monuments was translated in his submission for the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition in 2003. His memorial entry, titled Inversion of Light, was a moving creation that sought to incorporate the four universal elements: light, water, air, and earth. For Sasaki, each element represented a different aspect of being and living. The memorial, which included a wall of names, a street-level park, and a reflection pool, was to be a serene, peaceful place for remembrance and contemplation. Sasaki emphasized that his memorial was to be a “living memorial,” one dedicated to peace, truth, and posterity. While Sasaki’s proposal was ultimately not selected, like the Sun Gate, this entry pushed the boundaries of memorial architecture. To learn more about and see Sasaki’s design, please visit this link: http://www.world-memorial.org/Tribute/NY/Inversion/inversion.html.

Back in the fall of 2012, AAAC visited Sasaki’s studio, maintained by his wife, Miyo Sasaki. She works to support young Japanese artists, providing them with studio space and general support. While the studio is a space for this new up-and-coming artists, it is still home to Toshio’s work. To learn more about and see Toshio Sasaki’s studio, please read the 2012 article: http://artspiral.blogspot.com/2012/12/toshio-sasakis-studio.html. More recently, Miyo has created and completed a video about her husband. This short video, not currently available for public viewing, was a retrospective, documenting Sasaki’s great accomplishments throughout his life. Please reach out to AAAC or Miyo Sasaki to learn more about this video.

Although it has been 10 years since Sasaki’s passing, his ingenuity and artistic talent continue to live on in the art communities he was a part of. As an accomplished artist, sculptor, and architect, Sasaki had a profound effect on the aesthetic and artistic concepts of geometry, space, and time. He is a pioneer in the Asian and Asian American arts world.


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Thursday, May 11, 2017
Archival Alchemy: South Asian Women's Creative Collective

Archives play an integral role in daily life, yet they often remain obscured or overlooked. They allow viewers to receive glimpses of the past, of a life that they never experienced, and help reconstruct history; They become a foundation of knowledge and information for the academics and curious; They contribute to the formation and continuous evolution of identity. The form archives take are not restricted by documents, literature, or visual mediums: in fact, they are all around us. The clothes we wear, the objects we possess, and the things we carry on a daily basis: these are only a handful of examples of archives, items that can be used to reconstruct history and transform identities. The contributions archives make are, again, often disregarded or obscured because there are not many people who can identify the numerous forms they can take on. Thankfully, at the Abrons Arts Center, the true extent of archives was exposed.

Archival Alchemy
Photo by Bob Lee
Archival Alchemy: South Asian Women's Creative Collective was an exhibition, curated by Saisha Grayson, that used an assortment of archives in order to explore issues relating to assimilation,  marginalization, representation, and identity. Thirteen female South Asian artists contributed pieces that examined the history and present stance of South Asian women. Here is an official statement from South Asian Women's Creative Collective:

"At a moment when South Asian communities, women, and immigrant neighborhoods like the Lower East Side are being targeted by an evidence-averse administration, ​this exhibition will also offer an opportunity for nuanced reflection on the complex global and personal histories that shape conflicting views of our contemporary moment. Several works explore the role that archives play in creating official histories, papering over dissent and managing the disappearance of non-citizens, while others present or produce counter archives that resist such erasure and offer strategies for empowerment."

At the exhibition, an assortment of aesthetically-pleasing and personal pieces were displayed, all which provided political and social commentary on the lives of South Asian women. Here are a few examples of the pieces featured in the exhibition:

I Never "Ask for It" by Blank Noise:
Gathering together thousands of garments worn by those experiencing sexual harassment or violence, the ongoing project "counters the lie that women 'ask for it' through calmative, collectively-built testimonials reporting the truth of widespread, unchecked, unprovoked sexual aggression." The individuals who submitted clothes are labeled as "Action Heroes" -- ordinary citizen-participants taking action to tackle sexual assault. The diversity in styles -- children's cartoon t-shirts, modest cardigans, beach dresses, sweatshirts, and pajamas -- proves that "there is no outfit that women can wear that will stop what is ultimately a societal problem -- an entrenched rape culture that extends from excusing 'locker room talk,' ignoring street harassment, shame sexual assault victims, and failing to punish rapists, abusive spouses, and murderous partners to the full extend of the law." The display was supported by both text and audio clips.

 Garments Worn by Women Experiencing Sexual Harassment or Violence
Photo by Baie Rogers
 Garments Worn by Women Experiencing Sexual Harassment or Violence
Photo by Baie Rogers
The Scheherazade Project by Amy Khoshbin*:
The Scheherazade Project is a multimedia project that "merges live performance and an original score with animated Persian illustrations, images from the Iranian Revolution, found and newly created film footage, and immersive video game tropes to explore the power of storytelling, past and present." To view the entire feature, please feel free to click the link provided: https://vimeo.com/198574125

A Snippet from the Video
Photo by Baie Rogers
Another Snippet from the Video
Photo by Bob Lee
*The AAAC has written an extended piece about Amy Khoshbin. Please feel free to find the post on our blog.

Past and Present by Zinnia Naqvi:
Naqvi's series "uses family albums as a dynamic archives through which intergenerational identity construction and legacies of migration can be more precisely understood." There are two sets of photographs: one is an archival image that presents an migrant parent standing in their countries of origin; the second photograph is Naqvi's attempt to restage the original photograph using the parent's children. The process "reveals resonances that derive not only from familial resemblance, but from the children's tendency to be drawn towards or to create environments that offer points of connectivity."

Zinnia Naqvi's Project Past and Present
Image From Booklet
A Close Up
Photo by Bob Lee
Troy Towers by Patience Rustomji:
In her piece, discarded objects collected from her apartment complex are placed into glass vases, of all shapes and sizes, and are submerged in "cooking oil and spices traditionally used to preserve food" that were repurposed from her mother's kitchen. Rustomji "attempts to create an 'eternal present' for this imagined by invisible community by transforming detritus redolent of urban dislocation and alienation into 'a personal archive of desire, fantasy, and longing.'"

Patience Rustomji's Troy Towers
Image From Booklet

Another Vantage Point
Photo by Bob Lee
Perfect Love and Other Stories by Marium Agha:
Constructed with embroidery, recycled imagery, and found tapestries, Agha "dissects myths of love that accumulate across cultures, obscuring real experiences that run counter to formulaic fairytales." The rabbit featured in below is flayed, exposing threads and muscles. The pieces -- not displayed below is portrait that recreates Alice's White Rabbit, only it is instead made up of yarn and rope on fabric -- "court sensuous responses that, like their subject, exceed rationality."

Marium Agha's Perfect Love and Other Stories
Photo by Bob Lee

Index of the Disappeared by Chitra Ganesh and Miriam Ghani:
Following 9/11, there was a drastic shift in views towards security, privacy, Muslims, and immigrants. The ongoing archival project "is continually expanding to reflect the proliferating bureaucratic and legal mechanisms, and to appose the shift towards secrecy surveillance, and censorship, that have accompanied an unprecedented of disseverances, deportations, renditions, and detentions since 2001." The Index also provides "documents tracing the connections between increased immigrations enforcement and chilled speech, racial profiling, media representations of people of color, prison labor, the private prison industry, abuse in detention, corruption in ICE, militarization of the US-Mexio border, and the xenophobic histories of the 96 Laws, Japanese internment, and the Asian Exclusion Act."


The Index of the Disappeared 
Photo by Bob Lee
100 Days/16 Years
Photo by Bob Lee
Archival Alchemy achieved so much within it's small space: the exhibition provided a platform for an often overlooked demographic -- South Asian women -- to present their voices; the installations helped highlight complex but relevant issues that continue to shape the lives of every individual; the artists who contributed work brilliantly reminds viewers that archives are more than items: they are our stories and our identities.

On May 7th, Many of the Artists Held a Panel to Discuss Their Work
Photo by Bob Lee 
Links:
For more information about Archival Alchemy: South Asian Women's Creative Collectionhttp://www.sawcc.org/archival-alchemy-sawccs-20th-anniversary-exhibition/
For more information about the Abrons Art Center: http://www.abronsartscenter.org
For more information about Blank Noise and their ongoing project I Never "Ask for It"http://www.ineveraskforit.org/blank-noise
For more information about Amy Koshbin: http://tinyscissors.com
For more information about Zinnia Naqvi: http://www.zinnianaqvi.com
For more information about Patience Rustomji: http://www.patiencerustomji.com
For more information about Marium Agha: https://www.artsy.net/artist/marium-agha
For more information about Index of the Disappearedhttp://www.mariamghani.com/work/626 
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Amy Khoshbin: Redefining Art, Politics, and Their Intersectionality

VOTE AMY KHOSHBIN: CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 39
Amy Khoshbin is running for City Council in District 39 of Brooklyn in the Fall 2017 Race. According to her website, "Khoshbin is running as an information-gathering strategy, to demystify the supposedly complex structures of government and to empower others to run for office." Reviewing her official page, she is presented as a very common politician who wants to tackle trendy issues:
  • Prioritize a culture that supports creativity -- "we all start as creative individuals when we're children"
  • Put Brooklyn citizens before politics and corporate interests
  • Empower Brooklyn citizens with skills to create their own livelihoods and not be completely dependent on a corporate system
  • Dismantle all white supremacist systems
  • Ensure Brooklyn is a safe space for immigrants
  • Value Brooklynites -- their skills, talents, and insights -- to help strengthen the economic, social, cultural, and environmental state of Brooklyn
  • "Build a future we want to see, together"
What separates Khoshbin from other traditional politicians is her extensive background in art. Khoshbin is "an Iranian-American Brooklyn-based artist merging performance, video, collage, costume and sound to examine our individual and collective compulsion to create, transform, and sometimes destroy the stories of who we are and who we think we should be. She produces media and mythologies using humor and a handmade aesthetic to throw a counterpunch at the high-definition, profit-generating codes and signals that American audiences are trained and accustomed to consuming." 

Recently, her work was featured in the exhibition Archival Alchemy: South Asian Women's Creative Collection, located at Abrons Art Center. Her piece, entitled Scheherazade Project (2017), is a multimedia project that "merges live performance and an original score with animated Persian illustrations, images from the Iranian Revolution, found and newly created film footage, and immersive video game tropes to explore the power of storytelling, past and present."


video

There has not been a politician, in recent years, that frequently engages with communities through the means of art. If Amy Khoshbin's campaign is a success, she could redefine the relationship art and politics continue to endure. She has the potential to construct innovative methods to interact with individuals within the community and within the government: as a result, the bridge between politicians and the people could be gapped. 

For more information about Amy Khoshbin: http://tinyscissors.com
To view more of her work: https://vimeo.com/semiotech
To view The Scheherazade Projecthttps://vimeo.com/198574125

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Thursday, May 4, 2017
Indira Freitas Johnson: An Artist Who Creates Hybrids Aimed to Advocate for Empathy, Community, and Peace

"I use symbols, rituals, and traditional expression as a means to discover, interpret and balance the culture and philosophy of my home country, India, with the here and now of my life in the U.S... I believe that combining the material and spiritual of in ritual expression is a way to discover and interpret the meaning of life. Ritual can transform meaning or objects and make them function physically as well as spiritually. Thus I believe that when common found objects are re-introduced into society, and presented in a ritualistic format, they acquire a renewed energy and the idea of sacredness of everyday life is confirmed" - Indira Freitas Johnson

Indira Freitas Johnson is a self-taught artist and an educator on nonviolence. Coincidentally, both of her occupations intersect beautifully, both acting as sources for inspiration and social reforms. "Much of my inspiration comes from transitory, ritualistic Indian folk art practices," she writes, "which I've used to address issues of labor, domestic violence, nonviolence and health education, adapting them to operate within contemporary experiences thus evolving a hybrid version of the original traditions. As a result, my work has always been informed by my experience of life in both, the US and India."


Indira's artwork falls under a "call and response tradition" that is frequently practiced in many cultures. Many of her pieces rely on responses from each community she visits, allowing their feedback to help finalize the results; in a way, her work is a hybrid, whose construction and completion relies on community interaction.

*Death and Rebirth (2003), linoleum black print
*Title Unknown (????), drawing 
*Virtue and Vice I (2003), hand embroidered organza
Throughout her career, Johnson's work is represented in an assortment of major private and public collections across the world including: Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, Asian American Arts Centre (us!), Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Mobile Museum of Art (in Mobile Alabama), State of Illinois Building (in Chicago), Ankor Consultants (in Brussels), High Museum of Art (in Atlanta), Arkansas Arts Center and Decorative Arts Museum, University of Illinois Law School, Kohler Company (in Sheboygan, Wisconsin), High Museum of Art (in Atlanta, Georgia), SHARE, Air India Corporation, and Garden/Varelli -- the last three institutions are located in Mumbai, India.

Indira is also the founder of the Shanti Foundation for Peace, located in Illinois. The Foundation is a non-profit organization that "helps children realize their creative potential, equips teachers with new teaching tools, helps participants develop lifelong nonviolence decision-making and nonviolence skills, and enables schools and community organizations to advance their goals." In 2011, Shanti Foundation merged with Changing Worlds -- their missions is to "foster peace, acceptance, and understanding in the everyday interactions of people, by bringing visual, literary, and performing arts programs to schools and communities. Today, Shanti Foundation programs are now offered under the Changing Worlds' "umbrella." Here are examples of one of Shanti's art projects: greeting cards:

Shanti's Line Greeting Cards
Photograph Belongs to Changing Worlds
"Shanti’s line of greeting cards combine graphics designed by Johnson with distinctive quotes that challenge and inspire the reader. The quotes on all of our products are chosen to represent a variety of cultures, famous leaders, students, and unknown visionaries.  This diversity demonstrates the beauty of our differences and the similarities of our hopes and dreams" - Changing Worlds.

Recently, Johnson gave a magnificent TED Talk, at the University of Columbia College Chicago, on April 1st. There, she explains the significance a single individual can have on the entire world. To hear her talk, please feel free to visit the link: https://livestream.com/Tedx/tedxcolumbiacollegechicago
** She begins to speak at 6:12:00


Links:
For more information about Indira Freitas Johnson: http://www.indirajohnson.com
For more information about Shanti Foundation for Peacehttp://www.arts.illinois.gov/arts-education-roster/shanti-foundation-peace
For more information about Changing Worlds: https://www.changingworlds.org
To view her TEDxColumbia College Chicago talk: https://livestream.com/Tedx/tedxcolumbiacollegechicago
** She begins to speak at 6:12:00

*All Images Are Featured in the Online Data Base: artsasiamerica.org
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Lily Yeh: An Artist Who Brings Art to Impoverished Communities

“When I see brokenness, poverty and crime in inner cities, I also see the enormous potential and readiness for transformation and rebirth.  We are creating an art form that comes from the heart and reflects the pain and sorrow of people’s lives. It also expresses joy, beauty and love.  This process lays the foundation of building a genuine community in which people are reconnected with their families, sustained by meaningful work, nurtured by the care of each other and will together raise and educate their children.  Then we witness social change in action.” - Lily Yeh


Founder of The Village of Arts and Humanities, as well as Barefoot Artists, Lily Yeh has dedicated her life to bringing art to impoverished communities all across the world -- including locations within Utah, Kenya, China, Germany, Syria, Cite Soleil, and Damascus.

The Village of Arts and Humanities is an non-profit arts organization located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Their mission is to "amplify the voices and aspirations of the community [of Philadelphia] by providing opportunities for artist expression and personal success that engage youth and their families, revitalize physical space and preserve black heritage." The Village allows individuals within the community to freely create art that both continues to feed the vitality of Philadelphia, while also amplifying their own narratives and interests. The artistic contributions are extremely beneficial for both the city, and the individuals who inhabit it: "For Lily," The Village's official website states, "the beautifications of physical space catalyzed positive mental and emotional shits in the way that residents viewed their own lives and the health of their neighborhood."


A Community Garden on Germantown Ave., in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
A Model of Lily Yeh's Vision for the Community Garden

In 1988, the Germantown Ave. Community Garden was Completely Renovated: The Mosaics, Murals, and Sculptures Were Created by Both Yeh and Community Members


Barefoot Artists is constructed in a similar fashion as The Village of Arts and Humanities, but extends on a more international scale. The non-profit organization aims "to inspire participants to initiate new projects, bring other volunteers, find new funding sources and discover other opportunities to serve communities." Barefoot Artists aims to bring artwork to impoverished countries and encourage community members to participate in creating different pieces that will further contribute to the richness of the different countries. These projects foster community empowerment, improve the physical environment, promote economic development, and preserve and advance indigenous art and culture. Lily Yeh collaborated with Zheng Hong -- who holds a PhD in Paleontology, had just earned her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University -- in creating the Dandelion School for immigrant workers, located in Beijing. Yeh's artwork played an integral role in creating the new institution, as well as encouraging the youth to create work inspired by their own experiences. She wrote a book, about the experience, entitled Awakening Creativity: Dandelion School Blossoms.


AWAKENING CREATIVITY: THE DANDELION SCHOOL BLOSSOMS
Lily Yeh's work is featured in a Netflix Documentary entitled Barefoot Artists (2013), directed Daniel Traub and Glenn Holsten. The film focuses on the origins of Yeh's innovative work, and highlights the impact it has had on various communities. Yeh also gave a TED Talk on November 17, 2013, at Cornell University. There, she explained the importance of using art as a tool for both unity and social change: "Listen to the voice in your heart. Be courageous to respond to life's calling. Take action. Creative action guided by compassion leads to transformation."

Her TEDxCornellU Talk Can be Viewed Below:



Links: 
For more information about The Village of Arts and Humanities: https://villagearts.org
For more information about Barefoot Artists: http://barefootartists.org
To watch the documentary, Barefoot Artists, please visit Netflix.com and type in the title in the search bar
*Netflix account is required
To order her book Awakening Creativity: Dandelion School Blossoms: https://www.amazon.com/Awakening-Creativity-Dandelion-School-Blossoms/dp/0981559379/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493910541&sr=8-1&keywords=lily+yeh
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Saturday, April 22, 2017
Danny Yung's "Tian Tian" Exhibition, and Community Event, in Vancouver


Danny Yung, an experimental artist, hosted an event at The Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreational Centre, located in Vancouver, British Columbia. There, he introduced his renowned figure "Tian Tian,"and allowed children and adults to paint on their very own Blank Boy Canvas.
An Example of a Design that Can be Painted on The Blank Boy Canvas Can
Photo by Bob Lee

Participants
Photo by Bob Lee
Photo by Bob Lee
Photo by Bob Lee
Danny Yung's "Tian Tian" is featured in an exhibition, starting April 21st, at 808 Nelson Street, Vancouver, British Columbia. There, more of his canvas', which have all been painted on, will be placed on display for the public.

Audience Who Attended the Opening 
Danny Yung (Right) with Tian Tian

"Blank Boy Canvas is a collaboration that unifies modern art culture and North American talent with Hong Kong’s creative godfather; Danny Yung and his character ‘Tian Tian’. Yung derived his name from the Chinese proverb Tian Tian Xiang Shang translating to Everyday Looking Up. The 50 cm three-dimensional canvas has been given to selected artists to freely express, create or alter the subject while exploring the theme of infinite possibilities while capturing the inquisitive and innocent nature of youth."


Photograph of Exhibition

More Examples of Tian Tian
Tian Tian with Glasses and Cape

Ghost Tian Tian

Old Tian Tian: He's Aged but Determined

Heart and Thread Tian Tian

For more information about Danny Young, and his exhibition: https://curiousandcreative.com
For a recap about the opening of his exhibition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XduM5gdKlEk
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Artist Archives Initiative Symposium

On Friday, April 21, New York University (NYU) celebrated the launch of the David Wojnarowicz Knowledge Base, at the Artist Archives Initiative Symposium. The project is in collaboration between two departments: the Fales Library and Special Collections, as well as the Digital Department.

Diana Kamin, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Media, Cultural, and Communication at NYU, introduces the website

Here is an official statement from New York University's Center for Humanities:
"We needed to create a database and website that would accommodate complex relationships between objects, media, people, dates, places, exhibits, conservation reports, publications, and other archival resources regarding Wojnarowicz’ life and work. These relationships proved to be challenging to conventional database design that privileges a highly structured and hierarchical arrangement of information."

Diana Kamin (Speaker) and Deena Engel (Center), who is the Director of the Program in Digital Humanities and Social Sciences


Laura McCann, the Conservation Librarian in the Barbara Goldsmith Preservation and Conservation Department at NYU Libraries, explains the conservation process


The Panelists: Wharton (Podium), Marvin J. Taylor (Left), Kamin, McCann, Engel, and Kevin McCoy (Right)

Glenn Wharton

This process of categorization, Glenn Wharton (above) acknowledged, does not fit every artists agenda -- some artists prefer to keep a content of mystery, rather than have every detail of their work examined. In response,  Bob Lee brought up artist Nam June Paik, who had taken a photograph of himself with his hair full of ink moving his head across a long strip of paper. The Museum of Modern Art struggled to archive and categorize the photograph: was this A photograph of an art performance?; or, was the photograph itself the actual artwork. Since Nam June created this specifically to make it impossible for MoMA to categorize his work, Lee stated that Asian American artists will create works that challenge the cognitive structure of Western knowledge, such as categorization. 

(At another conference, the issue was raised in the context of Alfonso Ossorio. In his will he wanted the museum at Harvard to retain all of his collected things and place them together, rather than into separate categories.)

Lee suggested that innovative developments in artist's archives might consider the next step in structuring human knowledge and find a place for wisdom. Wharton acknowledged how Paik's name was often raised in such discussions, and said that his department was open to others to assist them in further exploring this field and confronting such questions.

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Thursday, April 13, 2017
Remembering Peter Kwong

Photo by Bob Lee

On April 9th, the Downtown Community Television Centre organized a community event to commemorate Peter Kwong, who had passed away on March 17. He was widely recognized for his passionate commitment to human rights and social justice. All photographs were taken by Bob Lee, who attended the event.


Audience

Peter Kwong (1941-2017) was Distinguished Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Hunter College, as well as Professor of Sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Mr. Kwong not only was a pioneer in Asian American studies, but also a leading scholar of immigration. Mr. Kwong published many books that explored Chinatown, Chinese immigration and labor, and Chinese politics. He has written numerous books, including Chinese America: The Untold Story of America’s Older New Community, Forbidden Workers: Chinese Illegal Immigrants and American Labor, Chinese Americans: An Immigrant Experience, The New Chinatown, and Chinatown, New York: Labor and Politics 1930-1950

He also contributed to several English language publications, such as The National, the International Herald Tribune, the Globe and Mail, and Village Voice. He wrote several articles that touched upon controversial topics that not only effected the Asian American community, but also the entire world. On July 17, 1990, Mr. Kwong wrote an article entitled “The Year of the Horse,” which investigated the growing control of the heroin trade by Chinese organized crime. He also wrote an outstanding, eye-opening piece (that was published on June 9, 1992,) about the 1992 Los Angeles Riots: in his article “The First Multiracial Riots,” he argues that contemporary media reports fundamentally misunderstood the L.A Riots of 1992 as simply a “Black vs. White” phenomenon, when it was actually “the first multiracial class riot in American history.” Both of his articles were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
In an email, Joseph P. Viteritti, the Chairman of Hunter’s Urban Policy and Planning Department, wrote that Professor Kwong “challenges the notion that Asians are a model minority, revealing in his research widespread class divisions, poverty, exploitation, drug abuse and organized crime — all of which were exacerbated by decades of discrimination by a majority white society."

In addition to writing, Mr. Kwong also chronicled the Asian American experience through documentary films. He covered similar issues, ranging from a market in Chinatown to Chinese organized crime in New York, discussed in his articles and books, through his films.

Chinatown Food Co-Op
Price List
A Consumer 
Snakeheads: The Chinese Mafia and the New Slave Trade
240 Chinese Remain in Jail
Mr. Kwong produced the 2010 Oscar-nominated short documentary film China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province, which depicted the Chinese government’s inept response to a catastrophic earthquake in 2008 that killed tens of thousands of people. The film was broadcast on HBO in 2009.


127 Children Were Killed

She Was in the 5th Grade
Numerous colleagues, friends, artists, and enthusiasts, as well as family members, attended the event, some reminiscing about their experiences with Mr. Kwong and the impact he had left on them, and the lives of others.

Add caption





Peter Kwong was a man who highlighted the raw and complex history of the Asian American experience --  he went beyond stereotypes, beyond the media, and beyond established assumptions. He created rich and detailed pieces of literature and artwork that highlighted the specific and complex narratives within Chinatown, that can simultaneously be gain empathy and support by other communities. His work reminds us of many things: that the beautiful can be flawed; that the vulnerable holds strength; that the divided can find unity; and that the powerless can become the powerful.

Rest in Peace, Peter Kwong
Original Photo by Zheng Lianjie

For more information about Mr. Kwong's Pulitzer Prize-nominated articles: http://www.villagevoice.com/news/rip-peter-kwong-who-chronicled-chinatown-drugs-and-race-for-the-voice-9811745
To watch the full version of China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Provincehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfcHJAnrMoQ
*Please disregard the first few seconds of the video

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