Monday, August 23, 2010

Learning from Yellow Rage

In two of three of my 1213QCA Indigenous Art, Protocols and Practices lecture last week I showed this video, and I wanted to provide all the students with an opportunity to engage with this powerful and confronting (and very effective) work again.

Warning: Course Language

bell hooks in her essay Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance argues
The commodification of Otherness has been so successful because it is offered as a new delight, more intense, more satisfying than normal ways of do-ing and feeling. Within commodity culture, ethnicity becomes spice, seasoning that can liven up the dull dish that is mainstream white culture. Cultural taboos around sexuality and desire are transgressed and made explicit as the media bombards folks with a message of difference no longer based on the white suprema-cist assumption that "blondes have more fun." The "real fun" is to be had bybringing to the surface all those "nasty" unconscious fantasies and longings about contact with the Other embedded in the secret (not so secret) deep structure of white supremacy. 
In the video, Yellow Rage seek to challenge stereotypes and assumptions of "Asian" and "Asian-ness". To interrogate mainstream positions and assumptions the artists explore:

  • mainstream assumptions (and entitlements) about language
  • appropriation of Asian imagery ("fake Asian tattoo)
  • assumptions about the cultural and sexual behaviour of Asian women
  • the power of the knower to know about the Other, including the impact of on-going colonisation by the West
  • the centring of the mainstream
 Some questions for discussion:
  • What are the key themes the artists are exploring?
  • What do you think of the way that they express their point? Does "confronting" work? How does it make you feel?

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