Thursday, November 18, 2021 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM
Asian futures, without Asians is a presentation by artist and curator Astria Suparak, which asks: “What does it mean when so many white filmmakers envision futures inflected by Asian culture, but devoid of actual Asian people?”
Part critical analysis, part reflective essay and sprinkled throughout with humor, justified anger, and acerbic observations, this one-hour illustrated lecture examines over fifty years of American science fiction cinema through the lens of Asian appropriation and whitewashing. Using a wide interpretation of “Asian” to reflect current and historical geopolitical trends and self-definitions (inclusive of East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia, Central Asia, North Africa, and the Pacific Islands — the latter two of which are not technically Asia), this biting critique examines how Asian cultures have been mixed and matched, contrasted against, and conflated with each other, often creating a fungible “Asianness” in futuristic sci-fi.
The presentation brims with images and clips from dozens of futuristic movies and TV shows, as Suparak delivers anecdotes, trivia, and historical documents from the histories of film, art, architecture, design, fashion, food, and martial arts. Suparak discusses the implications of not only borrowing heavily from Asian cultures, but decontextualizing and misrepresenting them, while excluding Asian contributors.
A conversation with Astria Suparak will follow the presentation.
Astria Suparak is an artist, curator, and writer whose cross-disciplinary projects, often addressing urgent political issues, have been widely acclaimed for their high level concepts made accessible through a popular culture lens. These projects include: Her multifaceted career includes these projects: Alien She, a traveling group exhibition on the impact of the global punk feminist movement Riot Grrrl; Whatever It Takes: Steelers Fan Collections, Rituals, and Obsessions, an exhibit that reframed sports fanaticism as a significant form of cultural production; Keep It Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism with The Yes Men, the first survey of the internationally renowned culture jamming group; and the Sports issue of INCITE Journal of Experimental Media, which was accompanied by a year-long series of exhibitions, screenings, dialogues, and artist projects. Her current research interests include food histories, linguistics, and diasporas.
Described as prescient and “visually and conceptually stunning,” Suparak’s work has garnered critical praise from The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Artforum, Art In America, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, Fast Company, The Wire, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and LA Weekly for its innovative curatorial approaches, “savvy political consciousness,” unique contribution to local and larger cultural spheres, and ability to bridge diverse audiences.
Suparak served as the director and curator of the contemporary galleries at Carnegie Mellon and Syracuse University, and of the Pratt Institute Film Series. She’s worked in every aspect of arts administration from fundraising to marketing to management. She has taught in the Fine Arts and Curatorial Practice graduate programs at the California College of the Arts, and the Museum Studies Program at the University of San Francisco.
Her artwork has been published in BlackStar Festival’s Seen journal, art journal LTTR, and Graffiti Women: Street Art from Five Continents. She edited The Yes Men Activity Book and her writing has appeared in Art21 Magazine, VICE Magazine‘s Noisey, The Getty blog, Boing Boing, The Exhibitionist, Queer Threads: Crafting Identity and Community, and The Museum Is Not Enough.
Suparak was born in Los Angeles to Thai parents.
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For more information:
Anjuli Singh firstname.lastname@example.org, Exhibitions and Office Coordinator, Film at Mason
Cynthia Fuchs email@example.com, Director, Visiting Filmmakers Series at Mason; Interim Director, Film at Mason