i, you, me, she, he, it, they, we are walking forms of pedestrian poetry

Month: December, 2012

Ur face is in the flowers

I’ll tell you a story.

Growing up, I remember waking up to the smell of multiple cultures intermingling. I remember waking up to the smell of SPAM, fried rice, Balut (fried fish), purple egg plant, pan de sol (filipino baked bread) hot off the oven. I remember waking up to the sounds of my grandmother playing Tchaikovsky on the piano. I remember my grandfather singing hymnals on Sunday mornings. I remember family Christmas parties and I remember the familiar faces that were many shades of brown. Oh, how I love to recall the voices of my youth. waking up to the Taglish of lolas, lolos, tita, titos, cousins I remember that my lola and lolo never called our country the United States, they called it America.

The notion of culture penetrates my memory.

The more I grew older, the more I began to see that the idea of my own Filipino tradition becomes a myth, a fantasy. I am Filipino-American. I am a cultural synthesis, an amalgam of reinvented traditions that span centuries in the making. I understand that the elders in my family speak with accents that are rich with the history of oppression and resistance.

My installationback1 closeup1 closeup2 closeup3 detail1 DSC_0015 as Smart Object-1 effect1 effect2 front1 front2 hall1 hall2 main1 main2 takes on many stories that belong to my cultural memory and cultural imagination. I try to tell life as (eye) see it. I see how my family formed new ways of belonging within this unfamiliar (alien) American geography through the process of assimilation. We formed new ways of belonging together within our alien nation (we are a nation of aliens aren’t we?) conforming to the new ways of living: specifically capitalism, suburbia, dependency on technology.

My cultural imagination lies in the hybrid cultures that were formed through these modes of assimilation. Assimilation defamiliarized our native tongues. Cultural genocide is a part of this process, but through the formation of community, we survive. The communities that I grew up with, were communities of comfort, assurance and salvation. We are communities who yearn for tradition through the process of creating our own hybrid cultures. For me that is where the beauty is. As an aspiring artist and art historian I tend to find myself extracting beauty from the rubble of my past, the history We intertwine through the historical junctures that occur through Migration.

I projected two videos during the week of the show: video one: “la niña, girl of my dreams” (see fig 1.) video two: “a family christmas home video“ (see fig. 2) video three: a television projecting a video of star shapes. I projected the first video onto a white sheet. The second video was projected onto saran wrap. I use these These are the “forms” of my time and place. These forms, along with the videos signify how I critically engage with the formation of my cultural memory. I am because we are, we are because I am.


MoAD: Viewer, Object, and Site [An essay]

so i applied for this internship at the Sf Museum of the African Diaspora in September but didn’t get because I lived too far away. i’d just thought i’d share my responses to their interview questions for whoever would be interested in reading them.

I hope to apply again next year! Cheeeeers:

Application Questions for Public Programs Internship, Fall 2012

  1.  Why did you choose MoAD as your intern site?

My first reaction to this question would be because MoAD is a space for the reflection of cultural diversity. But if I would like to expand upon that:

For me, the significance of MoAD lies in its social responsibility as a museum space to encourage dialogue addressing our shared African heritage. This practice challenges the vitality and depth of visual culture:  visual culture becomes a collaborative process, a space of interconnection where cultural diversity awareness and understanding may emerge. For me, spaces like MoAD, allow new forms of freedom to emerge: an art for the people, by the people, and from the people. The structuring of MoAD’s exhibitions, interests me in particular:

  •  the ‘changing’ exhibitions provide a platform for the public to engage in specific dialogues of African Diaspora expression
  • the ‘permanent’ exhibitions encourage dialogue about the origins as well as transformations of the cultures, enculturations, and transculturations of the practices and beliefs of African descendants

Approaching museum space as a form of interactivity, cutting across age, culture, race, goes beyond the notion of a museum of a space as mere anthropological space for ‘looking’, and introduces more contemporary ways of being together, a feeling of the familial (family and community)—— this is what I value and seek in a museum space and why I specifically applied to MoAD

2. How do you define the African Diaspora?

My definitions for this question exist in plurality:

Poetically, I could define the African Diaspora as:

  • the social fabric between I, you, me, she, he, it, they, us , WE
  • or a Sacredness that is making a comeback here, there and everywhere.

In terms of Sociology and Post-Coloniality, I could define the African Diaspora as:

  • a modern project of life expression: involving an endless and continual assessing of subject-positioning, shifting cultural and social identities that resulted from the dispersal of Africans around the world.

3. Based on your experience working with youth, community, non-profits and organizations, what can you bring to creating family programming at MoAD?

While living and working in Sacramento, CA, I had the opportunity to work and/or volunteer for the following organizations:

  •  My Sister’s House (a local non-profit organization addressing the needs of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans who are survivors of domestic violence). Since 2010, I have worked with outreach at public events, completed Shelter Advocate Training to work in their women’s shelter, and helped with writing community reports of special projects at My Sister’s House.
  • I was a student assistant and a media intern at Sac State’s Multi-Cultural Center from 2010-present. Here I work with public programming in a college student setting with an emphasis on advocating programs and workshops that focus on developing student’s leadership skills, diversity, social justice and personal wellness. Specifically I worked on developing programming related to people of color LGBT activisms.
  •  From 2010-Feb 2012 I was also co-chair on the Scholarship committee for a Sac State organization called Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (M.E.Ch.A.)—- we developed materials  and planned events to raise money for annual college scholarships for undocumented High School seniors in the U.S.
  • I am currently becoming actively involved with LGBTQ rights organizations in Sacramento, specifically addressing the needs of LGBTQ youth in grade school.

As a result, my prior experience working for community non-profit organizations has inspired my passion for addressing the needs of diverse communities through the lens of social justice activism. Understanding the intersectionality of oppression (the politics of race, class and gender) interests me and shapes my life passion, both professionally, scholarly and artistically.   My experiences have facilitated my desire for addressing and improving cultural proficient services to address the needs of our cosmopolitan and modern communities. The study and appreciation of art, with the specific focus on family programming will give me the opportunity to expand my skills and help to create exciting, interactive programming with a bent toward social progress and social justice. I would like to specifically research and collaborate on programming that addresses the rich and diverse groups of people who play integral roles not only as Art’s audience, but also the role as local actors in our community. If given the opportunity, I would specifically be interested in research and development that would focus on LGBTQ family-related programming at MoAD.

4. How would you describe your network (colleagues, professors, professionals) in the Bay Area and beyond?

I have a solid and strong network of colleagues in the Sacramento area. I correspond on a regular basis with my professors, colleagues and program managers at Sacramento State. I also correspond on a semi-monthly basis with my managers at the non-profits for whom I volunteer. Although my close colleagues and professionals I know in the art field are mostly based in Sacramento, I definitely open to developing contacts and correspondences in the Bay Area.

Also, I when it comes to social network and interaction I would compare myself to a monthly electronic newsletter for the arts: I try to keep updated, attend, and participate on community events and programs (in Sacramento and the Bay Area) which in turn helps me to solidify, expand and strengthen my social network in the areas art and social justice-related community events. This practice also helps me challenge and strengthen my writing skills.

5. What skills (technical, writing, research) do you bring that would enhance the work being done at MoAD?

What I would like to share with MoAD is my personal skills of writing, research, art theory and art practice.  When I approach professional and scholarly work, I tend to study and engage in the practice of:

  • Questioning how we look/the politics of looking
  • Seeing Art as social process, an experience of looking
  • Studying Art as “the struggle over relations of representation” (Stuart Hall)
  • Writing to “appeal to the reader’s freedom to collaborate in the production of his/her work and paints the world only so that free men may feel their freedom as they face it” (Trinh T. Minh-ha)

At best, I would work to enhance the work being done at MoAD through my commitment to social justice and cross-cultural understanding. My background with addressing social justice issues in cross-cultural communities has allowed me to explore and expand the possibilities of being a critical thinker and translating critical thinking into practice. In terms of scholarship my critical art thinking practices are being continually challenged and strengthened by my studies in Art History, Art Studio Sculpture, and Film Studies. I am an avid reader of contemporary art history scholarship; and as a Public Programs Intern for MoAD, I will offer a unique set of eyes that are continually challenging the way we look at art and the dynamic interrelationship between viewer, object, and site

Thoughts on David Lynch and Attempting the Impossible

What does reality really resemble?

Enculturations (?) Socializations (?) Dreams (?)

Is your reality more realer than my reality? Are our realities equally real? Or are they just pre-constructed elements of Time?

Is reality itself a series of illusions that we perform out of habit?

Colin McCabe writes that reality is made up of beliefs, relations, and knowledge.

If that is true, are we all just a bunch of surrealist poets? Dreamers?

Who knows how to respond to these questions?

Random fact: I have David Lynch on speed dial—- and last week I called him up, posing these same questions in hopes that he would give me all the answers I had been desperately searching for since the age of 2 (after I found Santa Claus the Tooth Fairy were just American Myths).Our conversation was short because I had a dentist appointment to go to…. And all Lynch did was repeat some Sufism scripture.

Lynch said, “Jessica Megan. The Logos is also Light: when chaos, the abysmal darkness, ended and moved toward order, Light came into being, of which wisdom is only a reflection.”

I wasn’t really enlightened by his response. It made no sense. But then, we have to ask ourselves what makes sense in this world besides the senses of cinema?

That is what I like about Lynch’s style. It truly doesn’t make the least bit of sense. And that is what makes it so real. Reality doesn’t sense make.

In Twin Peaks the dislocation of sound and image interpellate the cinematic spectator into the realms of visual familiarity and aural absurdity. The theme song evokes similar melodramatic theme songs heard on American day-time soap opera “One Life To Live” or “General Hospital”—-and the naturalistic setting of Twin Peaks becomes overly sentimental through this sound and through the over-romanticized visions of nature and industry. How many times in your life do you see a lumber saw represented in a delicate manner, sawing metal to the ambient sounds of chirping birds and melodic synthesizer keyboards?

Similarly, a scene from Mulholland Drive illuminates a film studio recording of a lip-synched version of the song “16 Reasons Why I Love You”. The song, sung by a 50’s looking A cappella group looks like they were plucked straight out the American sitcom Happy Days. The women singers are dressed in tangerine or pink-colored puffy-glamour-prom-gowns and the men singers are clothed in purplish-blue tuxedos with dark pants. The lighting gives everything a surreal feeling. The A cappella group sings with excessive sentimentality, they sing with little twinkles in their eyes, and as the camera pans backwards we are reminded, once again, that it is an illusion. They are just actors. And this is just a scene being recorded for a movie.

This is the Lynchian Pathos of Persuasion. As a cinematic spectator, I am driven by the desire to believe in the cinema’s image, but this belief grows from (my subjective belief) of what the tragedy of the image represents: the vicarious and superficiality of this world.

What does it mean to look?
What does it mean to have eyes?
Is cinema itself Kitsch art?
Is emotion itself a rendering of the imagination?
Are these questions just a self-created response to a self-created response?

The pondering of reality continues….