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Matico Josephson

American multi-ethnic arts organization based in New York’s Chinatown. The Asian American Arts Centre (AAAC) and its predecessors, the Asian American Dance Theatre (1974–93) and the Asian Arts Institute (1981–8), emerged from the milieu of the Basement Workshop, the first working group of the Asian American Movement on the East Coast, whose mouthpiece was the journal Bridge (1970–81). After the closing of the Basement Workshop in 1987, the Dance Theatre and the Asian Arts Institute were consolidated as the AAAC.

Directed by Eleanor S. Yung, the Dance Theatre was at the core of the organization’s activities from the 1970s through the early 1990s, performing traditional dances from several Asian cultures alongside modern and postmodern forms. In the early 1980s, the Asian Arts Institute began to hold exhibitions and collect slides of artists’ work and documentation of their activities, working primarily with artists involved in the downtown art scene. Early programs included open studio events for artists working in Chinatown and exhibitions of the work of Arlan Huang (...

Article

Aileen June Wang

(b San Leandro, CA, Feb 3, 1972).

American performance and video artist of Chinese ancestry. Chang earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego in 1994. She showed her first solo exhibition at Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, in 1999. Her body of work focused on how people can be deceived, either through sight—what one sees is not necessarily true—or through mainstream assumptions about such topics as Asia, sexuality, and socially accepted behavior. Chang attributed her past stint in a cybersex company as the catalyst for exploring illusion as a theme. She realized that video flattened three-dimensional, live performances into a stream of two-dimensional images, enabling her to engage in visual deception.

Most of Chang’s early works investigated problems of gender and sexuality, using her own body and elements suggesting violence or transgression. The photograph Fountain (1999) depicted her inside a cubicle of a public lavatory, with a urinal visible on the far wall. Wearing a business suit, she knelt on hands and knees, seemingly kissing herself but actually slurping water off a mirror on the floor. The accompanying video focused on Chang’s face and her passionate interaction with her own reflection. While the photograph suggested female humiliation in a male world, the video complicated matters by implying that the act was motivated by narcissism....

Article

Melissa Chiu

(b Anyang, Jan 23, 1965).

Chinese performance artist, active also in the USA . Zhang studied art at Henan University and the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. In the early 1990s he moved to Da Shan Zi (also known as Beijing’s East Village), an area on the outskirts of the city inhabited by a community of artists and itinerant workers from all over the country. Along with his peers, Zhu Ming (b 1972) and Ma Liuming (b 1969), he began to stage performances that became a central part of the activities of the artist community. Zhang is considered one of the pre-eminent performance artists of his generation in China.

In the mid-1990s, performances such as 12 Square Metres (1994), 65KG (1994) and To Add One Meter to an Anonymous Mountain (1995) became synonymous with experimental art practice in China. In 12 Square Metres (...

Article

Sook-Kyung Lee

One of the characteristics of Korean contemporary art is a continuous effort in employing and interpreting international art practices and discourses. Art movements from Europe and North America in particular, including Abstract Expressionism, Art informel, Minimalism, Conceptual art and Post-modernism, have influenced many Korean artists’ styles and ideas since the 1950s, providing formal and conceptual grounds for critical understandings and further experiments. Whilst some artists who maintained traditional art forms such as ink painting and calligraphy exercised modernist styles and abstract forms largely within the norms and conventions of traditional genres, a large group of artists proactively adapted to Western styles, employing new materials and techniques as well as the notions of avant-garde and experimentalism (see fig.).

A major critique of the reception of Western art and aesthetics came from ‘Minjung art’ (People’s Art) in the 1980s as part of instigating a nationalist and politically charged art strategy. Several art historians and critics who emerged in the 1990s also expanded the scope of the debate with postcolonial and pluralist points of view. The shift in social, economic and political environments played an important role in changing sensibilities in art, along with the advances of technology and new media in the 2000s. The high degree of diversity and sophistication of Korean art in terms of media and subject matters became widely acknowledged within and outside the nation, and an increasing number of artists started to work on the cutting edge of international art....

Article

Kevin Concannon

(b Tokyo, Feb 18, 1933).

Japanese multimedia artist, composer, and musician, active also in the USA and the UK. Born into a prominent Japanese banking family, Ono spent her childhood living in both America and Japan following her father’s banking career. She became the first female student to enter the philosophy course at Gakushiun University in Tokyo in 1952. At the end of the year, the family moved to Scarsdale, NY, and Ono enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College. In 1955, she eloped with composer Toshi Ichiyanagi (b 1933), dropping out of her course and moving to Manhattan, where she became involved with avant-garde art and music communities. From December 1960 through to June 1961, she hosted a series of performances organized with La Monte Young at her downtown loft. A one-person exhibition at Fluxus founder George Maciunas’s AG Gallery and a major solo concert at Carnegie Recital Hall followed in 1961. An original participant in ...

Article

Midori Yoshimoto

(b Seattle, WA, 1939).

American painter of Japanese ancestry (sansei or third generation). The subjects in Shimomura’s paintings, prints and performances have largely stemmed from his personal experience of living as an ethnic minority in the Midwest and his grandmother’s diaries chronicling her immigration and adjustment to the USA in the early 20th century. By incorporating the seemingly disparate images from the historical and contemporary sources, Shimomura has presented captivating visual essences that bespeak of the multi-generational experience not only of Japanese–Americans, but also of Asian Americans. His works constituted significant critiques of the racial prejudices deeply rooted in the American society, alarming the viewer that the roots of prejudice could be found in all individuals.

At age three, Shimomura’s earliest visual memory was formed in Camp Minidoka in the southern Idaho desert, where he and his family, along with thousands of other Japanese–Americans, were detained from 1942 to 1944. Shimomura’s distant memory was revived after reading his grandmother’s diaries, which offered the ground narratives for many series of paintings: ...