This Side, The Other Side, No Side
During the past Town Hall event organized by the Asian American Alliance, I had the most interesting conversation with a new friend, a Chinese American painter, about an issue seldom spoken of or even taken into account seriously even within the Asian American community.
My new friend was not selected to an art exhibition of Asian artists not because the curators did not like her work, but rather because her work did not address Asian issues, themes, or any cultural motif.
What has appalled me is the way how the curators expressed their message in such a straightforward way, as if it were the way it was supposed to be.
Comes to think of it, by not selecting the artist’s work for its relevance with the Asian motif in an exhibition exclusively of Asian artists poses a serious contradiction, and it also reflects the reality of Asian people born or live outside an Asian country. The question thus arises: if an Asian American artist does not make Asian theme or motif art, has this person given up his or her Asian-ness?
Does being Asian mean that one is expected to do or think or behave in the way that is believed to be Asian? What is it really to be Asian? Does blending or selecting either of the two cultures, one by heritage and the other by adoption, mean that one has lost both of them?
If all this were true, would it be too crazy to think that a new and universal combination of cultures does really exist and that this new culture, which I would like to call The Other Side-- since it is the other side of the generally recognized reality-- is actually a contemporary phenomenon, and to address this contemporary reality is a contemporary approach to the issue. We do live in a world of mixed reality, which is quite obvious in all aspects of our life-- music, food, fashion, art, economy, etc. -- all tend to be mixed, fused, globalized… So, in order to move into this contemporary world (in this case, it is art), should our first step be that of simply addressing the issue of The Other Side? What do you think?