“Every six months, my mom sends me a package from Korea and I drink my 한약. I imagine the sourness dampening the lining of my gastric mucosa and breaking up that year’s build up of white toxicity. Why is it that my identity is hinged on immiscibility, like water and oil never assimilating? Yes, it’s me, it’s clear that my own invisibility is the problem. My body buries every ache and every moment that hangs in the air like pollen and in the food like dust. It has turned my flesh into a vessel and no amount of water can break up this mucous. So, I drink my 한약 for self-conditioning. I dodge the growing weight of erasure under my skin and imagine purging that damp, thick coat that lines my membrane. And in the process, the deeply buried toxins rise up on my skin as horrible breakouts. This is the way my body insists, I am here.”
Like Water and Oil Never Assimilating will feature works that investigate the history of Asian American identity through the lens of anti-Asian and Yellow Peril journalism. What tools and rationale have been used in the past to justify conquest and discriminatory policies? What kind of boundaries and erasures do we participate in when we imagine the Asian diaspora from previous formations of Asian American identity? Some works examine how this legacy is self-conditioned or digested using literal materials – herbs, medicine, and food – to echo the history of colonialism. The exhibition investigates the inheritance of Orientalism in America to contextualize how this legacy carries over to the present, to cultivate a feeling of identity hinged on immiscibility, like water and oil never assimilating.
Tiffany Jaeyeon Shin (b. 1993) is a Korean-Canadian-American artist and curator exploring interconnections between sexuality, gender, and transgression; history, memory, and cultural myths; and social hierarchy in relationship to coloniality. Shin is interested in deconstructing colonialized bodies and the inherited legacy of Orientalism in America. Shin uses Taoist indigenous knowledge to explore the porousness of bodily boundaries and the ceaseless movement of living processes, like fermentation, echoing the history of colonialism. Shin is interested in entangling the history of conquest and the literal digestion of material – herbs, medicine, and food – into a new system of relations that emerge from a complicated history of entanglement.
Shin has collaborated with and/or exhibited at Trestle Gallery, Local Project, Abrons Arts Center, Miranda Kuo Gallery, Browntourage, and many others. She is the recipient of the NARS Emerging Curator 2017 Award and will be curating an exhibition that showcases artists from the Asian diaspora to call for a radical rethinking of Asian American identity. Shin works and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Asia Futurism and the Non-Human Other
Facilitator: Danielle Wu
Date: Wednesday, September 13, 7 – 9 PM
This will be an open discussion on Techno-Orientalism, racialized a rationale that views Asians and Asian culture as expendable technology. From movies such as “Blade Runner” and “Ghost in the Shell” to artists like Nam June Paik, Asianness has been defined as an eroticized tool to validate white superiority while blackness is un-modern and irrational. We will also examine how Asians and non-Asian artists engage in dis-identification politics to expose the present-day struggles and oppression of the non-human Other: Tiffany Jaeyeon Shin, Lawrence Lek, Morehshin Allahyari, Ambika Subramaniam, and Sondra Perry.
Archival Specters: Archiving Asian American History
Facilitator: Parissah Lin and Michelle Ling of Yellow Jackets Collective
Date: Wednesday, September 20, 7 – 9 PM
Yellow Jackets Collective will be leading a workshop on the uses of Archives in Asian American resistance and community making. We would like to invite participants to bring scraps and ephemera from femmes in their personal history, mythology, and collective history to start the process of producing a collective archive that accounts for erasure of feminized labor, and personal accounts. We will draw on historical figures and both public and private archives to talk about the use of archiving to counter dominant historical memory.
Facilitator: Yasmin Majeed and Nadia Q. Ahmad
Date: Thursday, September 21, 7 – 9 PM
So often we think of Asian Americans as the ‘silent’ minority: “Passive,” “Model Minority,” “Assimilationist,” “Submissive.” How do Asian American poets explore, deconstruct and redeploy silence in their poetry? In this collaborative workshop, we will explore this question through readings (focused on poetry), discussion, and generative writing prompts. Through the work of Asian American writers––including Timothy Yu, Tarfia Faizullah, Franny Choi, and others––we will look beyond the limiting understanding of model minority and the trope of the passive Asian, and investigate what Asian American poets use silence to say.
Mistranslating as Subversion
Facilitator: Jia Sung & Taehee Whang
Date: Wednesday, September 27, 7-9PM
As ‘others’ — POC, queer, immigrant, disabled — how do we achieve visibility while navigating the traps of white narrative paradigms? How do we reconnect to our inherited stories without re-enacting dynamics of fetishization, internalized from a lifetime of contact with this master narrative? Inspired by the mistranslations, faulty delivery, and awkward immediacy of these struggles for narrative independence, this workshop will examine how reinvention of the archive, whether drawing from folk- or personal lore, can become a powerful opportunity for subversion.
Esther Fan, Mieko Gavia and Tiffany Liu will be facilitating a workshop on allyship/identity politics, accountability, and the internet. How are the ways online/Facebook activism have affected the ways we think about allyship/solidarity and how we utilize—or often abuse—identity politics?