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Article

Sarah Urist Green

(b Kabul, June 5, 1973).

Afghan video and performance artist and photographer, active also in the USA. After fleeing Soviet-occupied Kabul with her family in the late 1980s, Abdul lived as a refugee in Germany and India before moving to Southern California. She received a BA in Political Science and Philosophy at California State University, Fullerton, and an MFA at the University of California, Irvine, in 2000. Abdul first returned to a post-Taliban Afghanistan in 2001, where she encountered a place and people transformed by decades of violence and unrest. Since that time, Abdul has made work in Kabul and Los Angeles, staging herself in performances and creating performance-based video works and photography that explore ideas of home and the interconnection between architecture and identity.

Beginning in the late 1990s, Abdul made emotionally intense performance art informed by that of Yugoslavian artist Marina Abramović and Cuban-born American artist Ana Mendieta. At the time unable to travel to Afghanistan, Abdul created and documented performances in Los Angeles that probed her position as Afghan, female, Muslim, a refugee and a transnational artist. In ...

Article

Susan Kart

(b Mbarara, 1963).

Ugandan photographer, film maker, and installation artist of Indian descent, active in the UK. Bhimji was born in Uganda to Indian parents. The family fled Uganda to England in 1972 due to President Idi Amin’s expulsion of all Asians and Asian-Ugandans from the country along with seizure of their property and businesses as part of his ‘economic war’ on Asia. Bhimji studied art at Goldsmiths College and the Slade School of Art in London and her photographic work primarily consists of close-up, sometimes abstracted glimpses of seemingly abandoned spaces, objects, and landscapes. Bhimji’s work focuses on India and Uganda, which are treated as almost anthropomorphic subjects that appear restless, unfinished, abandoned, or frozen in her photographs, films, and film stills. Bhimji was one of four shortlisted finalists for the Turner Prize in 2007, and her work has been exhibited alongside such artists as El Anatsui, António Olé, Yinka Shonibare, and ...

Article

Miwako Tezuka

(b Kien Giang, Vietnam, Oct 9, 1977).

American photographer of Vietnamese birth. Danh’s family fled Vietnam as refugees when he was two years old and eventually immigrated to the USA in the early 1980s. In 2004 he received Master of Fine Arts from Stanford University, California. Danh worked with photography to excavate, revive, and preserve forgotten stories in history, particularly those of manmade atrocities such as the Vietnam War.

Photographic images of disasters, tragedies and figures associated with them have also been the focus of works by such artists as Andy Warhol and Christian Boltanski. Both of these artists use the power of photography to arrest the moment that triggers affective interpretation of pain and sorrow of the subjects of their work. However, Danh’s scientific experiments regarding the process of photography led him to develop a technique that he called “chlorophyll printing.” Danh took photographs found in old magazines and historical archives, created negatives out of them, placed them over still-growing plant leaves and then exposed them to sunlight (for several days or weeks) in order to activate photosynthesis. As the leaf gradually changes color, parts that are not blocked from the sunlight by the overlying negatives remain leafy green, causing an image to emerge in shapes of what had been captured in the original photographs. The leaf can then be encased in resin to preserve the image. For example, in his series ...

Article

Donna Stein

(b Hollywood, CA, June 21, 1941).

American photographer, educator, and author. She attended the University of California Los Angeles (1959–62), where she studied drawing and painting. She completed her education at San Francisco State University (BA 1963, MA 1966) where she studied with Jack Welpott (1923–2007), whom she married (1971–7). Dater’s perceptive portraits of women and men and challenging photographs of the nude secured her international reputation.

Her earliest self-portraits date from 1963, using her own image to consider issues of gender, sexuality and the female role in society as well as the hidden side of herself. In 1980, she took the first of 10 trips throughout the Southwest, creating a series of black-and-white self-portraits in the landscape. She also photographed herself in color creating staged tableaus, not unlike Cindy Sherman’s fictional archetypes that satirize iconic roles thrust upon women by society.

Dater has explored the interpretive portrait genre from the beginning of her career to the present. Living and working in the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco during the 1960s, she was stimulated by feminism and other counter-culture movements (...

Article

Susan Kart

(b Nairobi, 1958).

Kenyan photographer, multimedia and performance artist, and teacher of Indian descent, active in the USA. DeSouza was born in Kenya to Indian parents. Raised in London from the age of 7, he called his background that of a ‘double colonial history’. DeSouza attended Goldsmiths College in London and the Bath Academy of Art, and although he has worked primarily in photography and as a writer on contemporary art, he has also branched out into performance art, digital painting, and textual and mixed media arts. He moved to the USA in 1992 and in 2012 became of Head of Photography at the University of California, Berkeley.

The primary themes in deSouza’s work are those of colonial encounter, seen in Indigena/Assimilado (1998), a photographic series of migrant workers in Los Angeles; migration, as explored in Threshold (1996–8), his early photographic series of airports empty of people; exile, which he explored in ...

Article

Vietnamese-American, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1968, in Ha Tien, Vietnam.

Photographer, video artist, conceptual artist.

In 1978, Dinh Q. Lê fled Vietnam with his family to the United States, where he eventually gained U.S. citizenship. After completing his BA in fine arts at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in ...

Article

Indonesian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Born 1949, in Blitar, Indonesia.

Installation artist, photographer, filmmaker. Mixed media, multimedia, video.

F.X. Harsono studied painting at the Sekolah Tinggi Seni Rupa Indonesia, Yogyakarta (1969–1974). In 1974, he was expelled from the school for his participation in the Desember Hitam (Black December), a student-led movement in protest of the state-sanctioned modernism that dominated the art academies of Indonesia. Along with like-minded artists, Harsono formed the Kelompok Seni Rupa Baru (New Art Group, ...

Article

Michelle Yun

(b Manila, 1954).

Filipino filmmaker and photographer, active in the USA. Fuentes received a BA in Anthropology and Behavioral Science in 1974 from the De La Salle University in Manila. The following year he traveled to the United States to study at the Wharton School of Business, Philadelphia, PA, receiving an MBA in 1977. In 1981, he moved to Washington, DC to study Photography at the Corcoran School of Art under Mark Power. Fuentes subsequently received a Presidential Fellowship in 1991 from Temple University to pursue a MFA in Film and Video.

Fuentes began his artistic practice as a photographer and is best known in this medium for two series, Circle of Fear (1981–91) and Face Fusion (1986–9). These two bodies of work initially sprang from the artist’s feeling of disconnection towards both his Filipino roots and his adopted home in America. The Circle of Fear works incorporate a syncretic mix of Filipino folk culture with Western iconography to create fetishistic still lifes with a Post-modern gothic sensibility. ...

Article

Anthony Gardner

(b Singapore, July 12, 1959).

Malaysian conceptual artist, active also in Australia. Gill studied at the University of Western Sydney, completing her MA in 2001. Despite working in a range of media, she is best understood as a process-based artist who has consistently explored notions of migration and transformation within material culture. These include the effects of international trade on such everyday activities as cooking and eating. The spiral form of Forking Tongues (1992; Brisbane, Queensland A.G.), for example, entwines Western cutlery and dried chillies from the Americas and Asia, highlighting how foods and utensils from across the globe have come together to transform local cuisines and inform culinary habits. Gill’s later photographic series refer to other understandings of migration, such as the spread of the English language or of capitalist desire throughout South-east Asia in recent decades. For Forest (1998; Sydney, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery; see Chua), Gill cut out words and sentences from books written in English, placed the texts within tropical landscapes and photographed the results before the books’ paper began rotting into the humid environment. For ...

Article

Martha Schwendener

(b New Delhi, Sept 8, 1953).

Indian photographer. While in New York in 1976, purportedly to earn a masters degree in business, Gupta studied with Philippe Halsman (1906–79) and Lisette Model at the New School for Social Research. Although he attended Concordia University in Montreal and finished a degree in accountancy (1977), the photographs he created of a post-Stonewall riots, pre-AIDS gay culture in New York during that period formed his first body of work, Christopher Street (1976). Gupta then studied at the West Surrey College of Art & Design, earning a diploma in photography (1981) and a masters in photography at the Royal College of Art, London (MA, 1983). Taken after the breakup of Gupta’s first relationship, Ten Years On (1984–5) featured gay couples, but also a population that was decimated by HIV/AIDS. Looking for Langston (1989), a collaboration with Isaac Julien (...

Article

Reena Jana

(b Saigon, Vietnam, 1960).

Vietnamese-American photographer. In 1975, as the Vietnam War was ending, Lê came to the United States as a teenage refugee. She had lived through the war, which was photographed and filmed by the mainstream American news media and seen in all of its frank brutality by everyday citizens in magazines and on television. Lê’s work deals with the depiction and public perception of battle, but her images feature views of reenactments or training exercises, rather than actual combat violence. In these images, there is no bloodshed. Yet because they are captured on film, the photographs provoke the viewer to first read them as documentary images of war.

Her series Small Wars (1999–2002) features images of male volunteers who gather on weekends in Virginia to re-create battles from the Vietnam War. Some are Vietnam veterans, others civilians. They wear soldiers’ uniforms and use props—military tents, planes—that look authentic, but close observation reveals that the pine trees and other landscape details suggest the backdrop is in the United States—far removed from the jungles and rice paddies of Southeast Asia....

Article

David Spalding

(b Ha Tien, Nov 16, 1968).

Vietnamese conceptual artist. Lê was born near the Cambodian border, but fled with his family when his hometown was invaded by the Khmer Rouge in 1979. Lê moved to Los Angeles and studied photography at the University of California, Santa Barbara and received his MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York in 1992. In 1989, while at the University of California, Lê enrolled in a class on the Vietnam War (1955–75) that emphasized American hardship. This sparked Lê’s earliest public art project, Accountability, a series of posters that Lê put up on his college campus (reproduced in 1992 for Creative Time, New York, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles). These posters juxtaposed American media images of the Vietnam War with explicit pictures of Vietnamese suffering, accompanied by captions detailing the damage done to Vietnam. The desire to intervene in dominant perceptions of the Vietnam War propelled Lê for much of his artistic career....

Article

Margo Machida

(b Saigon [now Ho Chi Minh City], Vietnam, March 23, 1954).

Vietnamese photographer and installation artist. Raised in Saigon, Pham joined the exodus of South Vietnamese refugees that began soon after the 1975 communist victory in her homeland. Settling in southern California, Pham studied art at California State University in Fullerton, ultimately receiving an MFA in photography (1986). She was appointed as a special faculty/visiting artist at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia (1989–92), and as a Rockefeller Fellow and instructor at the University of California in Los Angeles (1992–3). Her photographs have been widely exhibited at venues such as: Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan, the Asia Society Galleries in New York, Artists Space in New York, San Francisco Art Institute, Whatcom Museum of History and Art in Bellingham, WA, Washington Project for the Arts in Washington, DC, Photographic Resources Center at Boston University, Temple University in Philadelphia and university art galleries across California....

Article

Peter A. Nagy

(b Bangalore, Nov 9, 1956).

Indian photographer and performance artist. Pushpamala abbreviated her family name, a standard custom in South India, and she has refused to disclose what the N. stands for. She received a degree in economics, English and psychology from Bangalore University and then studied sculpture at the M.S. University in Baroda, in the western Indian state of Gujarat (1985). Her early works, mostly in terracotta, were figurative, resembling dolls and puppets and often arranged in groups. By the mid-1990s she was experimenting with found objects and with crafting objects by hand. Among her most successful works of this period was Labyrinth (1994; see 2004 exh. cat.); a circle of charred wooden sandals, such as those usually worn by holy men in India, implying a cyclical connection between religion and violence.

In 1996 Pushpamala embarked on what she referred to as ‘photo-performances’. These were elaborately staged scenarios in which she played the lead role, sometimes joined by other actors and almost always dramatically filmed. While indebted to Cindy Sherman’s ...

Article

Peter A. Nagy

Indian new media artists and theorists . Raqs Media Collective was formed in 1991 by New Delhi artists, Jeebesh Bagchi (b 6 July 1965), Monica Narula (b 13 June 1969) and Shuddhabrata Sengupta (b 12 Feb 1968), who met when they were studying for their masters’ degrees in mass communication at Jamia Milia University, New Delhi. The collective have explained the significance of their name in stating that:

Raqs is a word in Persian, Arabic and Urdu that means the state that whirling dervishes enter into when they whirl. It is also a word used for dance. At the same time, Raqs could be an acronym, standing for “rarely asked questions.”

Their practice incorporates new media, digital art, documentary filmmaking, photography, media theory and research, writing, criticism and curation ( see fig. ).

In 2002 they shot onto the international art world stage by being included in ...

Article

Indonesian, 20th–21st century, female.

Born 1966, in Pekan Baru, Indonesia.

Active in Amsterdam.

Photographer and film maker. Film and video installations, artists’ books.

Fiona Tan was born in Indonesia, the daughter of a Chinese father and an Australian mother of Scottish heritage. She spent most of her childhood in Melbourne, Australia. As an adult she relocated to Amsterdam, where she now lives and works. She studied art at Gerrit Rietveld Academie ...

Article

Vietnamese, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 1952, in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Film-maker, writer, composer. Feminism, race, post-colonialism, diaspora.

Trinh T. Minh-ha studied piano and music composition at the National Conservatory of Music and Theater in Saigon and comparative literature at the University of Saigon before migrating to the United States in ...