“Other Racisms” was the theme of the fourth iteration of Asia Art Archive in America’s annual Leadership Camp. This four-part closed seminar explored race and ethnicity from and within an Asian context. It addressed racism not only against Asians, but also among and by Asians.
Organized and moderated by Christopher K. Ho and AAA-A’s Furen Dai, Leadership Camp’s intimate format interwove seminar-type discussions of selected texts with the lived experiences and diverse knowledge of participants. The goal was to use these as guideposts to collectively and actively workshop discourses of race pertaining to, embedded in, and/or emanating from the variegated cultures and terrain of Asia.
Initial framing questions included:
- What if the “other” in “Other Racisms” is replaced with “our”? What are our racisms?
- How might we illuminate ingrained and invisible hierarchies between South, East, and Southeast Asians, and develop a language to address, and possibly redress, these?
- How do—and how should—debates about race manifest in visual culture formally, figuratively, symbolically, and materially? Are there positive, negative, and neutral examples?
- Where do notions of class and systems of caste intersect with issues of race, and can awareness of these amend curatorial practices, art pedagogies, and organizational structures?
- Decades ago, Deng Xiaoping touted “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” What are examples of “racism with Han characteristics”? What aspects are imported from the West, and what are endemic? Is it possible—or useful—to distinguish them?
- The political format of the nation state begets a particular and pragmatic definition race. Do other formats—for instance, of universal empires or, contemporarily, of economic coalitions like APEC or ASEAN—bring their own exigencies to the term?
- In the US, race relations primarily concern whites and others, with the former being a fixed term and the latter often interchangeable. When and how do we relate to other “others” in the West, and in our respective “home” countries?
The Open Call for Leadership Camp: “Other Racisms” is now closed. The selected campers for 2020 are:
Ariana Chaivaranon is an artist and an Interpretive Planner at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. Born in Thailand, Chaivaranon studied Visual and Environmental Studies and the History of Art at Harvard. Her award-winning thesis investigated the motif of a bisected circle—the formal union of 0 and 1— to evoke and challenge codification of the infinite heterogeneity of humanity into binaries via Artificial Intelligence. Chaivaranon’s interpretive work dethrones hegemonic narratives in museums, including the National Gallery of Art, Hirshhorn Museum, Harvard Art Museums, and Frick Collection. During COVID-19, she spearheaded cross-divisional anti-racist initiatives at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, winning board approval for the institution’s first equity team and land acknowledgment. She creates art that intersects with activism, through collaborations with Rirkrit Tirivanija, Tania Bruguera, and Lee Mingwei. Chaivaranon’s work hopes to interrupt in the breath between now and your next Notification with the noisy question of what exactly we value about each other as humans.
Don Hải Phú Daedalus (b. 1983) grew up in the shadow of the country’s largest public observatory—an area so remote and sparsely populated that it served as the first plutonium-processing plant for the Manhattan Project. Shortly after the oldest human remains in North America were discovered near his hometown, Daedalus left to attend the University of Washington, where, coincidentally, the remains were to be held during the decade-long legal dispute between the Kennewick tribe and anthropologists. During that debate, he completed studies in Continental and Applied Philosophy, as well as Interdisciplinary Visual Arts. He was a Ferguson and Richardson Fellow. In the post-911 climate that re-elected George W. Bush, Daedalus voluntarily ex-patriated to Spain, where the housing bubble was ripening. Living in Barcelona, he studied Ildefons Cerdà’s Eixample through painting, and drawing. Daedalus returned to the U.S. to complete his graduate studies at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he focused on new media, film and performance.
Shona Mei Findlay is a Singaporean curator based in San Francisco. She is currently Curator for Asia Programs at KADIST where she most recently curated Jeamin Cha’s solo exhibition, Troubleshooting Mind I, II, III (2020) and Pio Abad’s Kiss the Hand You Cannot Bite (2019). She has co-curated programs at De Appel and the Stedelijk Museum, both in Amsterdam and has held positions at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore (2014–2016) and Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative as part of No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia (2014). She was a participant of the Curatorial Programme at De Appel (2016–17), and is currently pursuing an MA in Global Development and Digital Culture at SOAS, University of London.
Utsa Hazarika (b. 1987, Delhi, India) is an artist and writer currently based in New York. Her research-based practice focuses on the dialogue between art and anthropology, British cultural studies, and indigenous movements in South Asia. Her video projects have been screened at art spaces in India, Britain and the United States, including the Berkshire Art Association (US), and Serendipity Arts Festival (India). She has been an Artist in Residence in art institutions in Asia and North America, including Lijiang Studio (China), Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (US), and Khoj International Artists’ Association (India). She holds an MFA in Fine Arts from The New School, and an MPhil in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge, where she was awarded Christ College’s Levy-Plumb Award for the Humanities. She has been awarded fellowships by the Asian Cultural Council, India China Institute, and the interdisciplinary Mellon Sawyer Seminar “Imaginative Mobilities” at The New School. Her art and academic research have been published internationally, including in Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, Trans Asia Photography Review and The Caravan. She is currently a member of the board at the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective (SAWCC).
Grace Hong (b. Singapore) received her MA in Research and BA (Hon.) in English Literature and Art History from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Her MA thesis was titled “Reading Modern Southeast Asian Art History Through Exhibitions,” and she hopes to continue her research in exhibition histories and institutional critique. While completing her final year as an undergraduate in 2015, she co-founded ArtHop.co, a digital and editorial platform to catalogue the Southeast Asian contemporary art scene. She has interned with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York; National Arts Council, Singapore; Singapore Art Museum and Art Stage Singapore, amongst others. She has been a regular writer for Vulture Magazine since 2015 and contributing editor since 2017.
Maya Jeffereis is a research-based artist whose work surfaces invisible and suppressed histories and confronts experiences of oppression and marginalization by recontextualizing, reimagining, or restaging those processes. Interviews, documents, or historical events are points of departure for experimental narratives and documentaries that play with fraught truth, investigating the space between presence and absence, memory and erasure, personal and collective. Her work often takes the form of video, performance, installation, and public engagement. Jeffereis’ work has been shown in the United States and internationally, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Queens Museum, New Britain Museum of American Art, and ArtHub Asia, among others. Jeffereis is the recipient of the Cisneros Initiative for Latin American Art, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts grant, and is a current artist-in- residence at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s (LMCC) Art Center at Governor’s Island. She has taught art and art history at The Museum of Modern Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and Hunter College (CUNY), among others. Maya received a MFA in Combined Media from Hunter College, a BFA in Painting and Drawing, and a BA in Classics from the University of Washington.
Christina Ko is a Korean American artist living and working in Queens, NY. She received her BFA from Cornell University in 2013 and has since then shown her work in Los Angeles, CA, Washington D.C., and in around NYC. Selected exhibitions include: Internal Arrangements, Trestle Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2020); Downloading Place, Wave Hill, Bronx, NY (2019); Fever Lure, Selenas Mountain Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2019); and Crossover: East and West, Korean Cultural Center, Washington D.C. (2018). Her work has been featured in Gallery Gurls, Arcade Project Zine, Hiss Magazine, The Fader, The Washington Post, and Ballpit Magazine.
Kiyoto Koseki is an artist currently based in New York. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Washington University in St. Louis and a Master in Design Studies from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. His work and collaborations have been presented at venues including Artist-in-Vacancy, Newburgh; American Medium, New York; Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Cambridge; Centro Cultural Universitario Tlatelolco, Mexico City; Galleria Massimodeluca, Venice; and Aoyama Meguro, Tokyo.
Fang Yu Lee is a Taiwanese-born curator with an MFA in Curatorial Practice from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore. Her curatorial practice focuses on raising critical awareness of voices that have been marginalized or excluded from contemporary art discourses. Fang Yu studied in Germany and the U.S., incorporating themes of diversity, equity, and inclusion in her work. Recent exhibitions include Rootless Orchids at the Asian Art and Culture Center at Towson University, MD, which featured work by Taiwanese and Taiwanese-American artists exploring the Taiwanese diaspora and challenges of shifting identities in both the U.S. and East Asia.
The formative years of Vivian Li’s professional development were in the late 1990s and early 2000s during the rise of globalization in contemporary art with the explosion of international biennials and increased exhibitions and market recognition of contemporary art from art centers outside of Europe and the U.S. Inspired and supported by this new cultural context, she has devoted her career to writing and curating about historical blindspots in modern and contemporary art, particularly pertaining to East Asia. She received her Ph.D. at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor studying with Joan Kee, the first holder of a university position in the U.S. specifically created for the study of modern and contemporary art in Asia. She is the Lupe Murchison Curator of Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art specializing in East Asian modern and contemporary art. Li has also contributed articles offering new perspectives on modern and contemporary art in China to various publications, including the Oxford Art Journal, Yishu, and the forthcoming anthology, Postwar—A Global Art History, 1945–1965 edited by Okwui Enwezor and Atreyee Gupta.
Jen Liu is a visual artist based in New York and Vermont, working in video/animation, genetically engineered biomaterial, choreography, and painting to explore national identities, gendered economies, neoliberal industrial labor, and the remotivating of archival artifacts. She is a 2019 recipient of the Creative Capital Award, 2018 LACMA Art + Technology Lab grant, and 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship in Film/Video. She has presented work at The Whitney Museum, MoMA, and The New Museum, New York; Smithsonian American Art Museum, DC; Royal Academy and ICA, London; Kunsthaus Zurich; Kunsthalle Wien; the Aspen Museum of Art; Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; MUSAC, Leon; UCCA and A07 @ 798, Beijing; Times Museum Guangzhou, and the 2014 Shanghai Biennale and 2019 Singapore Biennale.
Raised in Lahore and Tkaronto/Toronto, Eshan Rafi continues to perform displacement, most recently through living the conditions of the global housing crisis in various cities such as Berlin. Currently they are invested in interventions dealing with information and archives, and in working against notions of individualized production in contemporary art. Rafi studied Fine Arts at Concordia University (Montréal) and York University (Toronto), and was a 2014-2015 fellow in the Home Workspace Program at Ashkal Alwan, Beirut. Most recently, their work has been shown at SummerWorks, Toronto (2020), Articule, Montreal (2019), Sharjah Film Platform, Sharjah (2019) and M:ST 9 Performance Art Biennale, Calgary (2018). They have participated in residencies at Fondazioni Antonio Ratti, Saas-Fee Summer Institute of Art, and the Banff Centre, and are currently an MFA candidate in Art, Theory and Practice at Northwestern University.
Megha Ralapati is an independent curator, arts manager, writer and parent based in Chicago, where she oversees the Jackman Goldwasser Residency at Hyde Park Art Center. The program supports artists across Chicago and internationally, as well as initiates collaborations with community-centered, experimental arts organizations like Project Row Houses (Houston) and ARTPORT Tel Aviv. Ralapati has also developed curatorial projects including Xenophilia in Chicago (2016), Double-Jointed at Scaramouche gallery in New York (2012), and contributed to New Narratives: Contemporary Art from India at the Chicago Cultural Center (2007). Her writing has been included in publications, South as a State of Mind (Documenta 2018); Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic (2015 Brooklyn Museum), Black Sun (2014 Devi Art Foundation) and Manual for Treason (2011 Sharjah Art Foundation), and she has presented ideas and writing at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU (New York 2013), Eyebeam Art + Technology Center (New York 2012) and as a participant at the Incheon Biennial (Korea 2011). Ralapati received an MA in Visual Culture from Goldsmiths and a BA in Art History and Anthropology from Columbia University.
Suneil Sanzgiri is an Indian American artist, researcher, and filmmaker working to understand how systems of oppression are informed and reinforced by trauma, history, and memory. His work spans experimental video, animations, essays, and installations, and contend with questions of identity, heritage, culture and diaspora in relationship to structural violence. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a Masters of Science in Art, Culture and Technology in 2017 and was a 2016 resident of the SOMA program in Mexico City. His short film At Home But Not At Home made its World Premiere at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) in January 2020, with a nomination for the Found Footage Award. His follow up film Letter From Your Far-Off Country will make its world premiere at the New York Film Festival in fall of 2020. His work has been screened at festivals and galleries nationally and internationally. Sanzgiri was also selected as a co-programmer of the Flaherty Seminar NYC in 2020. He is currently working on a collaboration with the Hong Kong based writer Tiffany Sia.
Nushelle de Silva is a design historian and an arts educator, currently pursuing a PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her academic research is broadly concerned with the politics of museums and exhibitions, and her past work has examined Cold War exhibitions, contentious museum collections, and the fate of monuments in times of crisis. Her doctoral research, which traces how international organizations UNESCO and ICOM shaped museum practice in the latter half of the twentieth century, has been supported by the Paul Mellon Centre, the Design History Society, and the Society of Architectural Historians. Committed to public scholarship, she is currently developing an open-access unit on Sri Lankan design for undergraduate use funded by the American Institute for Lankan Studies, and serves as a host for the New Books Network podcast. She also volunteers with Building Bridges Sri Lanka (www.buildingbridges.lk), an arts initiative to foster critical and creative thought, and in this capacity has collaborated with organizations including the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Colombo, Let’s Build Great Things, and Mind Adventures to provide free arts programming for secondary-school students.
Victoria Sung is a Korean American curator based in Minneapolis. She is currently Associate Curator of Visual Arts at the Walker Art Center, where she co-curated Siah Armajani: Follow This Line, the Iranian American artist’s first major retrospective, and co-edited the accompanying 450-page catalogue offering new scholarship on six decades of Armajani’s practice. The exhibition opened at the Walker in September 2018 and traveled to The Met Breuer in February 2019. Upcoming projects include solo exhibitions with Rayyane Tabet, Candice Lin, and Shen Xin (all 2021). Her current research focuses on the construction of Asian and Asian American cultural identities in New York in the 1990s through the development of a number of groundbreaking exhibitions, as well as through the creation of alternative, artist-led spaces and networks. In particular, she is interested in the Korean artists Bahc Yiso’s contribution as an artist, critic, curator, and educator through the founding of Minor Injury (1985-1989) and the SEORO Korean Cultural Network (1990-1994).
Dan S. Wang arrived in Los Angeles in 2018 after living for fifty years in the Great Lakes region. He makes prints, drawings, photographs, sculptures and other kinds of art. Typography, histories of technology, the political aesthetics of ethno-liberation, the geographies of everyday life, the French Revolution, and Chinese-Korean cuisine are the stuff of his obsessions. His works have been shown in more than fifty shows, in spaces ranging from museums to restrooms. He has often worked in artist-run and collaborative situations, both as a founding keyholder of Mess Hall, an experimental cultural space in Chicago, and as an exhibiting artist with solo shows at Woodland Pattern (Milwaukee) and Compound Yellow (Oak Park). Recent projects include commissioned work for Station Museum (Houston) and Asian Arts Initiative (Philadelphia). A Ragbox of Overstood Grammars, a retrospective of eighty-plus letterpress prints, is on display in 2020 at Fonderie Darling (Montreal). His critical writings have been published internationally in book collections, museum catalogs and in dozens of artists publications. Together with Anthony Romero he co-authored the book The Social Practice That Is Race (2016). Currently he is a Resident Artist at 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica.
Michelle C. Wang 王慧兰 is Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Georgetown University. A specialist in medieval Chinese art, her publications have addressed Buddhist maṇḍalas, Dunhuang painting, and art of the Silk Road. Her first monograph, Maṇḍalas in the Making: The Visual Culture of Esoteric Buddhism at Dunhuang (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2018) analyzes the Maṇḍala of Eight Great Bodhisattvas at the Mogao and Yulin caves during the Tibetan and Guiyijun periods, demonstrating that transcultural communication over the Silk Routes, and the religious dialogue between Chinese and Tibetan communities, were defining characteristics of Buddhist maṇḍalas at Dunhuang.
Christopher K. Ho (b. Hong Kong) is known for multi-component projects that are both materially specific and conceptually expansive. He is an artist, educator, curator, and critic based in New York and Hong Kong. He has exhibited at, among others, the Bronx Museum, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, UCCA Beijing, Asia Society Hong Kong, the Times Museum, ParaSite, Storm King, the Queens Museum, the Incheon Biennial, and the Busan Bienniale. He is currently editing an anthology with curator Daisy Nam titled Best! Letters from Asian Americans. The New York Times, South China Morning Post, Artforum, Art Asia Pacific, Yishu, Frieze, LEAP, RanDian, Art in America, Modern Painters, Hyperallergic, and Art Review have featured his work. He received his BFA and BS from Cornell University and his MPhil from Columbia University.
New York-based artist Furen Dai (b. Hunan, China) works in video performance, installation and film. Dai received her BA in Russian language and literature from Beijing Foreign Studies University, and her MFA from Tufts University. She has presented her work at the National Art Center, Tokyo; Athens Digital Arts Festival, Greece, amongst others. She has participated in residencies, including International Studio and Curatorial Programs, Art OMI, NARS Foundation, Saas-Fee Summer Institute of Art and has received public art commissions from The Art Newspaper (2019) and Rose Kennedy Greenway (2020). She is the recipient of The Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation Fellowship (2017) and an Emergency Grant from Foundation for Contemporary Arts (2020).
Here is the list of fourteen publications selected for the AAA-A Reading Room by the 2021 Leadership Camp cohort
The Blacks of Premodern China (Encounters with Asia)
Debating Race in Contemporary India
Cultural Techniques: Grids, Filters, Doors, and Other Articulations of the Real
Witnesses to History: A Compendium of Documents and Writings on the Return of Cultural Objects
Black Looks: Race and Representation
The Accumulation of Capital: Graphyco Annotated Edition
Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia
Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness
The Multiracial Experience: Racial Borders as the New Frontier
Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds
The End of History and the Last Man
The King Never Smiles: A Biography of Thailand’s Bhumibol Adulyadej
Under Discussion: The Encyclopedic Museum
Disaffected: The Cultural Politics of Unfeeling in Nineteenth-Century America