Adele H. Stamp Student Union - Center for Campus Life

Not Your Model Minority
Pandemic, Proximity, and Power
 

Wall 1 - Responding to anti-Asian violence due to racialized COVID-19 fears

Responding to anti-Asian violence due to racialized COVID-19 fears

 

With deaths and rates of infection due to COVID-19 rose, politicians and media platforms were quick to dub the “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) or COVID-19 / coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” due to the first outbreak documented in Wuhan, China. By racializing the global pandemic, a resurgence of the anti-Asian rhetoric and violence in the United States occurred and continues to occur from the last few months to the present. The racially-based micro-aggressions that many Asian Americans have felt, ranging from the “fox-eye trend”, cultural appropriation, and the Bamboo ceiling, were coupled with overt displays and actions of abuse, discrimination, and violence. Moreover, people from various ethnic groups of Asian origin living in the United States were homogenized as “Chinese” in the eyes of many Americans. 

Asian/American people and communities in the United States quickly found themselves at a turning point, where the microaggressions turned into macro-aggressions, where snide remarks and racist rants turned into physical altercations and prejudice due to physical markers of race and cultural markers of ethnicity. 

During stay-at-home orders, state lockdowns, and mandatory quarantine amidst the anti-Asian sentiments, the artists of Not Your Model Minority, like many others, attempted to process the quickly-changing world and cope with the “new reality”. The following works depict the artists’ response to the present moment, whether it be racialized grief, making sense of daily life under quarantine, working to elucidate the systems that backed racialization of disease, anti-Asian rhetoric, and the lasting impacts of other instances of Asian/American oppression and violence. 


Fox News in Chinese from Selina Lee on Vimeo.

Selina Lee, Fox News in Chinese, 2020. 6:35 min. video

 

Fox News in Chinese is a performance for video between Fox News anchors, the artist, Siri, and the artist's mother. Using a compilation of Fox News clips, selected for their virality and conspiracy- creation over key word, “China,” the artist translates verbatim Fox News statements into Mandarin Chinese through Siri. Using the translated statement, the artist’s mother performs an additional translation of the statement back into English, using Siri on a separate device.

The final products of these translations differ in meaning from their original—exposing Siri’s Chinese inabilities, along with the racial prejudices existing in technology and conservative news media. This video illustrates the transcription process of a larger project that archives Fox News statements and their translations throughout the Pandemic.

Special Thanks to the Studio for Creative Inquiry and Matthew Brown with USA Today



how to paint a rocking horse (excerpt) from stephanie mei huang on Vimeo.

 

stephanie mei huang, how to paint a rocking horse, 2020. VHS-c converted to digital, sound, found carousel horse, steel, oil, 12V power supply, windshield wiper motor, 11 minutes.

Filmed on March 30, from my kitchen in Los Angeles during the stay-at-home order, how to paint a rocking horse is a performative lecture that uses auto-theory to synthesize the COVID-19 crisis, racial grief, and the colliding temporalities that arise with resurfacing histories of anti-Chinese rhetoric within the American West.

 


 


Nibha Akireddy, Parachute Coconut Oil, 16” x 20”, oil on canvas panel, 2020


Akireddy’s Parachute Coconut Oil and Dry Shampoo are depictions of her daily life during the past few months of quarantine due to COVID-19. Her works are collages that are made up of fragments of her world, from mundane tasks of self-care and hygiene, to snippets of the critical self-reflection in the bathroom mirror.


Nibha Akireddy, Dry Shampoo, 24” x 36”, oil on wood panel, 2020


Missing Piece Project 2020 Dedication. Digital Video

Gong Casted by: Stephanie Mercedes

Collectively Envisioned and Worked on by The Missing Piece Project Collective

Missing Piece Project (MPP) is an annual staging of a collective intervention that symbolically and physically disrupts American remembrance (and erasure) of the Vietnam War. MPP calls for a collective dedication of objects at the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. each April 30 by marginalized communities still affected by legacies of the war. Two pilot dedications have occured (2018 and 2019) and continue annually, building towards a large-scale collective gathering on April 30, 2025, the 50th anniversary of the war’s “end” and the beginning of many refugee journeys that continue today. In addition to objects being physically archived in the Vietnam Collection of the National Parks Museum Resource Center, MPP has created a digital community archive to provide insights into objects and the intangible performative elements of our collective dedications. In 2015, before MPP existed, only six objects could be confirmed to have been left by Vietnamese people at the Wall, out of hundreds of thousands in the Vietnam Collection. MPP carves out space for marginalized communities in this public memorial, demanding recognition of the experiences and imagination of displaced peoples affected by the war’s legacy, through a polyphony of stories. As the project develops in coming years, we ask questions about how to extend narrations of the Vietnam War in contending with other affected populations across the U.S. and transnationally. For example, how do we remember the experiences of millions of Black Americans forced into the war at disproportionate rates by a military draft reliant on the dispossession of individual autonomy? Or, how do we remember the historical solidarities between anti-colonial Black and Asian Americans in the U.S. and Vietnamese people across the world resisting U.S. imperialism? MPP is a community archive interested in remembering the war capaciously, challenging U.S. imperialism at large.


payal kumar, white supremacy is a weapon of mass destruction (after james baldwin and tony morrison). acrylic and ink, 2020.


Whiteness as a point of departure is taken as a norm, with discussions around race focusing on Black and brown bodies as the "other"- this assumption obscures how whiteness is socially constructed just as much as anything else, and has very real and violent material consequences. We can't undo the violence of white supremacy without first unpacking whiteness itself as a historical category. It's not just about skin color- many European immigrants coming to America were not considered white at various points in history (the Irish, Jews, Italians, etc) to justify their exploitation. As a political category, it has always been conveniently fluid within the United States (reflected in the Census over the years) and intentionally made invisible to those who benefit from it. "Whiteness" as a racially significant category has largely been defined in opposition to the inferior "other"- whether it was the Indigenous folks who colonizers sought to wipe out of the Americas, enslaved Africans who had become "property" for slave-owners to brutalize while maintaining "moral" superiority, or emancipated Black workers excluded from white labour movements during industrialization. Whiteness is relational, oppositional, parasitic. Why are we so invested in maintaining a system that exists entirely to justify dehumanization and violence? That historically has and continues to pit minority groups (like us Asian Americans) against each other? That only values us conditionally? Who is this for, really?