Out of the Archive: Process and Progress

This catalogue was published on the occasion of an exhibition of the same title at Asian American Arts Centre (AAAC ) that took place between September 18 – October 30, 2009, based on the digital archive, artasiamerica.org. This digital archive consists of 10% of the total 1,500 Asian American artists entries in AAAC’s original archive, which reflects important artists exhibited by AAAC since 1983. For the exhibition, guest curator Angel Velasco Shaw selected four artists from a review of the 160 artists in artasiamerica.org. 

The printed catalogue was edited and coordinated by Sarita Echavez See who chose four writers/literary scholars to review the artists’ work: Karen Su, Karlyn Koh, and Jan Christian Bernabe. The essays shed light on these artists in a variety of ways such as: the artists’ relationship to the work that they exhibited at AAAC in the past; the critique and contextualization of their current work; and the national and international context for these artists’ creative production. These essays launch an investigation into the shifting rhetorics of art criticism and cultural criticism. The goal – open up a critical dialogue for these artists/art works and a critical language for engaging more substantively with Asian American art. (Excerpt from AAAC’s summary).

This title is included in “Holding Space: A Shortlist Exploring the Complexity of Asian American Identity”. Publications that address the complexities of the Asian American and Asian diasporic experience in the field of contemporary art are few and far between. As an organization based in the U.S. and serving a diasporic Asian community, we have experienced firsthand both the desire for knowledge in this space as well as the frustration due to its paucity. “​​Holding Space” is a shortlist composed of a selection of publications housed at our reading room that begins to redress this scarcity. This list is by no means exhaustive; rather, it represents the start of a continued commitment to fill this gap.