In Unsettled Visions, the activist, curator, and scholar Margo Machida presents a pioneering, in-depth exploration of contemporary Asian American visual art. Machida focuses on works produced during the watershed 1990s, when surging Asian immigration had significantly altered the demographic, cultural, and political contours of Asian America, and a renaissance in Asian American art and visual culture was well underway. Machida conducted extensive interviews with ten artists working during this transformative period: women and men of Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese descent, most of whom migrated to the United States. In dialogue with the artists, Machida illuminates and contextualizes the origins of and intent behind bodies of their work. Unsettled Visions is an engrossing look at a vital art scene and a subtle account of the multiple, shifting meanings of “Asianness” in Asian American art.
Analyses of the work of individual artists are grouped around three major themes that Asian American artists engaged with during the 1990s: representations of the Other; social memory and trauma; and migration, diaspora, and sense of place. Machida considers the work of the photographers Pipo Nguyen-duy and Hanh Thi Pham, the printmaker and sculptor Zarina Hashmi, and installations by the artists Tomie Arai, Ming Fay, and Yong Soon Min. She examines the work of Marlon Fuentes, whose films and photographs play with the stereotyping conventions of visual anthropology, and prints in which Allan deSouza addresses the persistence of Orientalism in American popular culture. Machida reflects on Kristine Aono’s museum installations embodying the multigenerational effects of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and on Y. David Chung’s representations of urban spaces transformed by migration in works ranging from large-scale charcoal drawings to multimedia installations and an “electronic rap opera.”
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"For years, Margo Machida was practically the only person to bring Asian American artists into what were then the `multicultural' debates, and the only writer/participant to cover their activities and art with a high degree of social vision and intellectual passion. With Unsettled Visions, she has produced a work of amazing breadth, positioning each artist's work in an internationally historical, political, and theoretical context that considerably deepens my own understanding of art I have been familiar with for years."-- Lucy R. Lippard, author of Mixed Blessing: New Art in a Multicultural America
"Unsettled Visions is an engaging and extremely significant book beyond the fact that it is the first study to examine Asian American visual productions in a systematic way. It sets a high standard, and will be the model for works that follow."-- Gary Y. Okihiro, author of The Columbia Guide to Asian American HistoryFrom the Back Cover:
"This is a foundational text for appreciating and interpreting contemporary Asian American art. It is an intelligent and intelligible work built on many years of dedicated research and original thinking. Margo Machida has obviously been inspired by deep encounters with the art emanating from this marvelously complex demographic. "Unsettled Visions" has set the standard for the field."--Franklin Odo, Director, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program
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