Archive for September, 2007

I’m gonna find ya, I’m gonna getcha getcha getcha getcha

Monday, September 17th, 2007

One Way or Another has arrived at the Berkeley Art Museum this week! Galleon Trade compadre Mike Arcega is in this massive exhibition, as are other local hometown heroes Indigo Som, Ala Ebtekar, and Binh Danh.

Given that Kearny Street Workshop’s APAture festival, and Galleon Trade comadre Gina Osterloh’s solo show at 2nd Floor Projects also open this week, it’s a pretty banner moment for Asian American arts here in the Bay Area… congrats to everyone who’s been hustling to get things in order for these great events!

Mike Arcega’s work at BAM:

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the APAture flyer:

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Gina Osterloh’s work at 2nd Floor Projects:

 

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And here’s some of the BAMPFA propaganda:

The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) presents One Way or Another: Asian American Art Now, a major exhibition that asks what it means to be Asian American in today’s world.

The exhibition features more than thirty works by seventeen Asian American artists, most of whom were born after 1970 or who grew up in the U.S. during that decade. Working in a range of styles and media, the artists reveal widely divergent ideas about being Asian American. One Way or Another: Asian American Art Now is organized by the Asia Society, New York, and opens at BAM/PFA on September 19 and runs through December 23, 2007.

Unlike an earlier generation of Asian American artists whose work made very bold and deliberate statements of identity — as seen in the ground-breaking Asia/America: Identities in Contemporary Asian American Art, organized by the Asia Society in 1994 –the artists featured in One Way or Another create work that is not dominated or defined by their ethnicity. Instead, “Asian Americanness” is a theme that informs, rather than drives, the artists’ work.

“The biggest thing we had to address was what constitutes ‘Asian American arts,’” says Susette Min, one of the exhibition curators. “Is it art created by an artist who identifies as Asian American? Is it art created by an artist who has at least one parent who’s Asian? Is it art that has something thematically associated with being Asian in America? Does it have to be politically motivated, or engaged with ‘traditionally’ Asian American issues?”

One Way or Another features artists primarily from three major regions with large Asian American populations: Los Angeles, New York, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Four artists are based in the Bay Area — Ala Ebtekar and Indigo Som (Berkeley), Mike Arcega (San Francisco), and Binh Danh (San Jose) — and four in Los Angeles: Glenn Kaino, Mari Eastman, Anna Sew Hoy, and Kaz Oshiro. The exhibition’s title is taken from the 1978 Blondie hit, and reflects the visible influence of popular culture on these artists’ work.

OK! See you kids out and about at these events this week!

ONE WAY OR ANOTHER
Berkeley Art Museum

APATURE
Kearny Street Workshop and affiliated venues

GINA OSTERLOH: BLANK ATHLETICISM
2nd Floor Projects

two art shows I’m in

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Oops. Had a couple shows last week. Forgot to mention earlier.

(Well, I was in the Doldrums. Sometimes these things happen there.)

I had two openings last Thursday evening for two exhibitions that my work is in: one was To Hedonopolis, From Melancolony, curated by Rico Reyes, at USF’s Thacher Art Gallery, the other was The Big Ideas Project: Three Views, organized by Cicely Sweed and Joel Tan, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The openings overlapped slightly, and were across town from each other, which made things a little interesting in the shuttling process.

Rico selected four of the paintings from my Point of Departure series. I had handed off the work to him well before I even left for the Philippines: one of the marvelous things about A, group shows, and B, having a larger body of work these days, is that it’s not always excruciatingly painful amounts of last-minute work before a show anymore. (I reserve the right to have excruciatingly painful installations at any point in the future, however.) I got to just show up for the opening, mix with folks, and eat yummy reception food.

Rico, by the way, is off to Goldsmiths College in the UK any minute now! He’ll be kicking butts and taking names in the Cultural Studies PhD program there. Good luck, Rico! Clear some floor space for me to crash on, kid.

The Yerba Buena opening was a little awkward, since I had to get there a bit late: the opening itself was lovely, festive and well-attended, and the folks there hosted a really fun, lively reception. I was one of three artists selected to create year-long installations in the Room for Big Ideas downstairs. The tricky part about the opening was that my work doesn’t actually install in earnest until 2008. Four more Point of Departure paintings are in the RBI, as place-holders of sorts. And so, since I haven’t really installed yet, I didn’t think to invite anyone!

Anyway, for your amusement, here’s the original, primitive mock-up for what’s in YBCA now. I haven’t been able to swing by during the day to take a proper picture, but it looks similar. Below the image is what I am planning to do, in conjunction with the Identity Shifts programming in early 2008: read at your peril. Secrets will be given away. TMI on the RBI alert…

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the original proposal:

In August 2007, my section of RBI (Room for Big Ideas) will be minimal: walls painted a pale avocado-esque green, four small, framed paintings hung. The images are simple and meditative, and will allow the preceding installations by Ali Dadgar and Derick Ion more focus and breathing room. The agreement was that each of us will take turns fleshing out our installations over time. Ali will go first, with both Derick and I keeping our sections minimal, followed by Derick (Ali will recede his installation a bit), then myself (Derick will recede his installation, as well).

The framed paintings are part of a larger project on Filipina nursing and immigration that I’ve been working on. The green fruit-like geometric form in each of them is a stylized durian (a Southeast Asian fruit known for its spiky exterior, fleshy interior, and perversely pungent aroma). The durian functions as a sort of vas hermeticum, a sealed form suggesting an overseas contract worker’s tropical roots, his/her conspicuity in an institutionalized, homogenized environment, a vessel for containment and transference, and a sort of ominous self-protection. The file folders in two of the images suggest institutionalized record-keeping, and archived private information.

Painting the walls a pale green suggests a couple of things: calming, verdant space, a fertile site for growth, but also conversely a sort institutionalized sterility, like a hospital’s mint-green walls. Color, but controlled and systematized. The simple relationship between the paintings and the wall color is intended to imply both complements and contradictions.

When it comes time to fully install in conjunction with the “Identity Shifts” programming in 2008, the framed paintings will be reorganized on the wall along with a number of new elements. I’ll contribute a combination of images painted directly on the wall, some additional paintings/drawings on paper, and vinyl design elements, all contributing further to a sense of liminality, negotiation, and border-zone.

teaser wall-text that’s in the RBI now:

My project for the Room for Big Ideas corresponds to the ideas and generative questions put forth by YBCA’s spring 2008 programming for the Big Idea “Identity Shifts”. It starts quietly and minimally in summer 2007, and then builds into a fully-realized installation in spring 2008.

The fluid, negotiable terrain of identity has been the site of enormous possibility and opportunity, and well as confrontation and contestation. Lines get drawn around gender, class, race, and any number of other affiliations, but these lines are now extremely wobbly, if not out and out blurry.

I address these tensions in the Room for Big Ideas, starting from a feeling of displacement, and then developing into a more complex meditation on liminality, need, and place. My installation functions as a sort of border-zone, situated in the space of feminized overseas contract labor. It is an extension of a long-term project I’ve begun exploring Filipina nursing and immigration narratives. I’m generally interested in quiet, but frictive, space: this room will eventually become the site for images that are meditative, interior, imaginative and political.

straight outta argentina

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

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Eliza, who’s living there for a few months, just sent me this.

How rad is this???

Yes. Rad.

I want my new stage-name to be Woffles Del Mundo.

The Doldrums

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

Wow. I thought I’d worked my way through through that whole Kubler-Ross-Manila thing, but maybe I was stuck in Denial longer than I thought. And I’ve been moping around the house in a state of ennui that just might suggest that I was in a state of Depression…but I haven’t actually felt depressed. Just lethargic. I’ve been telling folks I’m in the Doldrums, which sounds at least a little bit better than just outing myself as a bum.

The funny thing is, I just looked up the definition of “doldrums”, and found the description rather Galleon Trade -apropos:

doldrums: equatorial belt of calms, area around the earth centered slightly north of the equator between the two belts of trade winds. The large amount of solar radiation that arrives at the earth in this area causes intense heating of the land and ocean. This heating results in the rising of warm, moist air; low air pressure; cloudiness; high humidity; light, variable winds; and various forms of severe weather, such as thunderstorms and squalls. Hurricanes originate in this region. The doldrums are also noted for calms, periods when the winds disappear, trapping sailing vessels for days or weeks.

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Aha!
So it’s only natural!
I got stuck in the post-Galleon Trade mental doldrums that were still somehow post-Galleon Trade literal doldrums!

Danged flat spots.

You know, the original galleons that sailed from Acapulco to Manila couldn’t figure out for the longest time how to get back across the Pacific to Mexico, because of uncooperative winds. (Or…doldrums… dunh-dahdah- dunnnn….) It took a good 30 years before those funny Spaniards figured how to get back to the Americas, by way of some north-easterly tradewinds that landed them in California, then allowed them to toodle their way south along the Pacific coast.

So I figger, geographically, symbolically, etcetera, I’m conceptually well-justified in having been stuck for a minute.
Ha haaaa.

Didn’t Milo get stuck in The Doldrums in The Phantom Tollbooth, too?
I wonder if that book still holds up.
Hm.

I’ve been mostly in decent spirits, actually. No misery or anything, just a lingering stupor. Yay, stupors! Still, the winds are picking up again. Got some thrilling news about some artsy developments that I’m super-excited about, but I’m not allowed to say anything officially yet. What comes after the doldrums, anyway? I’m hoping some sort of celebratory snack bar, with hot dogs and stuff.

A snack bar sounds nice right now.