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Mapping Asian Art 

APAture: A Window on the Art of Young Asian Pacific Americans

Wednesday, Sep 6 2000
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In this postmodern world of multiple voices, is an artist's work truly defined by her/his ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, etc.? And in this age of creating categories for those voices, how accurate are the boundaries of these categorizations? Do these boundaries provoke art, or constrain it?

Kearny Street Workshop asks these and other questions in its second annual showcase: "APAture: A Window on the Art of Young Asian Pacific Americans." The show includes a visual arts exhibition, plus video and film screenings, performance art, music, a panel discussion, and a full-fledged expo. KSW's overall mission is "to promote, preserve, and present art that enriches and empowers Asian-American communities." "APAture" grew out of a corollary desire to promote APA artists between the ages of 18 and 35 who live and work in the Bay Area. Says "APAture" coordinator Claire Light, "We wanted to create a space, outside of the academy, where young APA artists can show, gain experience, and build an audience. Our not-so-hidden agenda is to train them in how to organize an event, and in curation, promotion, and various tech support roles."

The gallery exhibition, opening Monday, features the work of 28 visual artists, including Chinese hapa 18-year-old Tiffany Beres' Chinese brush paintings of contemporary Western subject matter, Filipino photographer Rhett Pascual's black-and-white images of Filipino dancers; and Chinese-American engineering student Alan Chi's installation of significant objects set in a glass-topped coffee table to describe a relationship gone very wrong. Also featured are Rae Chang's installation of shoes and feet, which explores the geography of desire and guilt as evoked by and mapped onto parts of the body, and sex worker Gennifer Hirano's multimedia self-portraits.

Later this month, a film and video program projects short works by 15 artists, and a multidisciplinary performance night offers literary readings, dance, choral performance, and didgeridoo. On a more serious note, the panel discussion will address the pan-ethnic nature of the APA community and how this has played out in the formation of nonprofit organizations. But the centerpiece and grand finale of the event is the expo. Running from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30, it will include trapeze artists, spoken word, live music, a fashion show, and -- last but not least -- a live mystery tattooing in which a willing victim will be decorated without knowing the design until it's already on her body. This is to top last year's onstage head shaving. It should be interesting to see what kind of one-up they come up with for next year.

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Julie Feinstein

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