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One Way or Another: Asian American Art Now (September 19 - December 23, 2007)
Exhibition by young artists — including four from the Bay Area — asks what it means to be Asian American.
Berkeley, CA, July 20, 2007 — 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 considers issues of ethnicity and identity in the work of an emerging generation of Asian American artists. The exhibition features more than thirty works by seventeen artists, most of whom were born after 1970 or who grew up in the U.S. during that decade, whose work is grounded as much in American culture as Asian culture. Working in a range of styles and media, the artists reveal widely divergent ideas about being Asian American. Themes of identity — both individual and collective — will be explored in a thought-provoking series of artists' talks, lectures and panel discussions, and readings accompanying the exhibition. 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.
The works in the exhibition range from paintings, drawings, and sculptures to photography, performance art, and video installations. Glenn Kaino's Graft (salmon) (2006) is a sculpture of a salmon made out of sharkskin that suggests appearances might be deceptive. Michael Arcega's large model ark, Eternal Salivation (2006), contains strips of different kinds of dried meat and is a satirical commentary on Hurricane Katrina, global warming, and the arbitrariness of survival. In a series of photographs, Indigo Som documents Chinese restaurants in America's southern states and shows how ethnic identity has become an almost invisible part of the contemporary landscape. Saira Wasim creates small paintings in the style of Indian miniatures that comment on contemporary international politics and themes such as globalization and war.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Pacific Film Archive will present More than One Way, a film series that looks at several generations of Asian American moving-image artists, concentrating on earlier moments in their creative careers. This nine-part series affords an overview of a quest for cultural identity that has evolved throughout recent decades. Artists such as Jon Moritsugu, Shu Lea Cheang, Gregg Araki, and Gina Lim, display in all their energetic departures a restless instinct for the brash, the unconventional, and the fearless. Patty Chang, a performance artist included in the gallery exhibition, will participate in a short residency, bringing her forceful and telling work to several BAM/PFA events.
A self-guided audio tour of the exhibition will be available to check out at the museum or download from the BAM/PFA website (bampfa.berkeley.edu).
One Way or Another will include a wide array of public programs that explore the question of Asian American identity today. These include an interdisciplinary panel featuring several of the artists featured in the exhibition, a talk and demonstration by artist Binh Danh, a reading by young Asian American poets, a performance by artist Patty Chang, and a panel discussion focusing on Asian American identity and Asian adoption in the U.S.
Thursdays, 12:15 and 5:30 p.m., and Sundays, 2 p.m.
Sign language–interpreted tour: Saturday, October 6, 1:30 p.m.
Curator's Talk with Elizabeth Thomas, Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator
Wednesday, September 19, noon
Interdisciplinary Panel Discussion
Asian American Art Now
Sunday, September 23, 3 p.m.
An interdisciplinary panel about making art within the context of Asian American identity. With UC Berkeley professors Elaine Kim (Asian American Studies) and Colleen Lye (English); exhibition artists Anna Sew Hoy and Michael Arcega; exhibition co-curators Susette Min and Karin Higa; and Intersection for the Arts program director Kevin Chen.
Performance and Book Signing
Shedding Light: Performance and Illumination by Denise Uyehara
Friday, September 28, 7 p.m.
Museum Theater (use Durant Ave. entrance)
Artist's Talk and Demonstration with Binh Danh
Sunday, September 30, 2 p.m.
San Jose–based artist Binh Danh combines photosynthesis and found photographs to make the fragile and evocative artworks he has named "chlorophyll prints." In an interactive program with museum visitors, the artist will discuss his works in the exhibition and demonstrate his process for making art.
Artists' Gallery Talk with Michael Arcega, Ala Ebtekar, and Indigo Som
Sunday, October 14, 2 p.m
Bay Area artists Michael Arcega, Ala Ebtekar, and Indigo Som will discuss their own and each others' work in the exhibition, and consider what it means to exhibit work in a project about current Asian American art.
Asian American Poetry Now
Sunday October 21, 3 p.m.
Asian American poets Barbara Jane Bermeo, Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, Kathy Park Hong, Paolo Javier, David Lau, Eileen Tabios, Tan Lin, and Truong Tan will read from their work.
Asian American Identity and Asian Adoption
Sunday, November 11, 3 p.m.
Young-adult adoptees from Asia have a unique sense of identity that both challenges and expands notions of being Asian American in this "post-identity" era. This panel will present scholars alongside young-adult adoptees who have dealt with their experience through creative expression to discuss a range of issues stemming from Asian adoption.
Performance by Artist Patty Chang
Thursday, November 15, 6 p.m.
Patty Chang presents a new performance-work-in-progress—part of her long-term investigation of Hollywood actress Anna May Wong and transcultural issues at the advent of sound film.
The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) aims to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through contemporary and historical art and film, engaging audiences from the campus, Bay Area community, and beyond. BAM/PFA is one of the largest university art museums in the United States in both size and attendance, presenting fifteen art exhibitions and five hundred film programs each year. The museum's collection of more than 15,000 works includes exceptional examples of mid-twentieth-century painting, including important works by Hans Hofmann, Jackson Pollock, Eva Hesse, and Mark Rothko, as well as historical and contemporary Asian art, early American painting, Conceptual and contemporary international art, and California and Bay Area art. The PFA film and video collection now includes the largest group of Japanese films outside of Japan, as well as impressive holdings of Soviet silents, West Coast avant-garde cinema, seminal video art, rare animation, Central Asian productions, Eastern European cinema, and international classics.
One Way or Another: Asian American Art Now was organized by Asia Society, New York, with support from Altria Group, Inc., the W. L. S. Spencer Foundation, Nimoy Foundation, and Asia Society's Contemporary Art Council. The Berkeley presentation is supported in part by Richard Shapiro and Patricia Sakai.
With the exception of Denise Uyehara's perfomance on September 28, the public programs for One Way or Another: Asian American Art Now are supported by UC Berkeley's Consortium for the Arts and the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities, and co-sponsored by Asia Society Northern California.
Patty Chang's residency and associated programs are presented with support from the Consortium for the Arts at UC Berkeley.
The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Additional support is provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Koret Foundation, the Bernard Osher Foundation, Packard Humanities Institute, the Henry Luce Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Columbia Foundation, the Christensen Fund, the William H. Donner Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, Gap Inc., other private foundations and corporations, and our individual donors and members. Major endowment support has been provided by the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation and by George
University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Located at 2626 Bancroft Way, just below College Avenue near the UC Berkeley campus.
Gallery and Museum Store Hours:
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General admission is $8; admission for seniors, disabled persons, non–UC Berkeley students, and young adults (13 – 17) is $5; admission for BAM/PFA members, UC Berkeley students, staff and faculty, and children under 12 is free; admission for group tours is $3 per person (to arrange a group tour, call  642-5188). Admission is free on the first Thursday of each month.
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