Lauren Kimchi and I met up in downtown LA today. It was great to see her glowing self and I finally got to meet her bf, James. (I'm off record here, but I think they're wonderful for each other. I approve)
She invited me to a performance at REDCAT by Asian-American artist Kristina Wong. The piece was entitled Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. She was extremely funny, and I seriously wish I could be her best friend. The underlying issue brought to light was the fact that Asian women have some of the highest rates of suicide and depression, and Wong spent the performance attempting to act as a martyr to resolve the problem. However, she herself ends up going crazy in this process of trying to represent the Asian-American female experience. The performance was multi-layered, an awareness piece, a parody of herself (and of the Asian American experience), an assemblage of "fictitious" accounts of depression that are at the end of the day very real issues. I think she did a really good job of entertaining, but at the same time I didn't connect as much with the piece as I hoped. Not that I expected to be bawling the entire time, but... something was lacking in order to make it feel genuine. She reiterated the fact that she didn't want people to think that the personas she portrayed were related to her personal experiences, but for those 1.5 hours, I kind of wish they were more real. Instead of detaching herself from it, I wish she could have embraced it more. But I think she made it a point not for her own work to be that of monologues, and more of a meta-piece. The performative aspect will inevitable place a degree of separation from the topic at hand. Also, I always feel slightly uncomfortable about the fact, that in order to create awareness on something, one must play into the stereotypes at the end of the day. Not that the stereotypes aren't true, but I shutter at the fact that it may have a reinforcing effect on perpetuating the stereotypes. In this case, I think Wong balanced it well. Her presence, as an Asian women and performer, was enough to prove that Asian women can be anything but what you except. It's always hot to see spicy Chinese women who are doing really awesome shit.
Afterward, we went to Little Tokyo for dinner and after getting lost for a bit, ended up at a gallery opening for some CalArts students. Everyone there was intimidatingly hip, but there beyond hipster. Just cool. The show was in an empty downtown studio, very intimate. My favorite piece was about periods. Perhaps I am biased to work dealing with women right now, but it was insanely funny and uncomfortable watching a girl talk about the cyclical and cosmic nature of periods while she had smothered her face in some blood. At one point, the period blood was spewing from her mouth. Just dripping.
All in all, it was a very chill day. But after seeing Wong's performance and going to the art show, it made me a little sad that I myself am never going to be an "artist." Many times today people would ask "are you an artist, too?" after Lauren introduced me, and if I had told them "Oh no, I'm a public policy student at Duke," I'm sure I would have gotten some blank stares. What am I to them, really? Probably a soulless individual who can't appreciate the conceptual and complex nature of aesthetic renderings. Clearly. No but really, I wish I could be one of them.
Also, I've decided to end every post from now on with a video or two. Or a photo or two. Or anything visual that I find worthy of posting. Because I like visual aids.
Here are two videos about pollution of the mind and death by television: