I have a love-hate relationship with the Art World. I love the inventive ideas you don't see on television. I hate how colonial the museum space is with artists of color notoriously underrepresented in major art institutions.
I always thought the most "famous" works of performance art would read COMPLETELY DIFFERENTLY (and be way more interesting) if performed by people of color. So when the Asian Art Museum invited me to TAKEOVER their giant four story museum for a night, I knew I had a rare opportunity to subvert the white institutional gaze of the Art World HEAD ON and make for very funny and layered results.
On September 8, my favorite artists (and the San Francisco Public Defender) give these famous performance pieces the mockery/ re-interpretation/ homage they really deserve. Check out seven highlights from Takeover: Kristina Wong!
1. Just Short Round! Because that movie is so much better without all the other characters.
"Chilled Monkey Brains" anybody? Steven Spielberg introduced hella racist savage brown people and exotic yellow people imagery with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984). It also featured a very lovable Chinese sidekick named Short Round who should have been the lead!
Actor Jeffrey "Tall Round" Lei will perform a monologue that consists of all of Short Round's lines -- every half hour in the Southeast Asia Section of the museum! Behind him will be a backdrop of ancient Asian artifacts, just like the one Indiana Jones used to recover! Rumor has it that filmmaker Matthew Abaya will be there as Indiana Jones!
Preview Jeffrey Lei rehearsing his lines. It's pretty epic:
2. San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi takes on Shia LeBeouf
Jeff Adachi isn't just San Francisco's hardworking Public Defender! For one night, he is moonlighting as a performance artist! Last year, Shia LeBeouf watched all his movies for three days straight and live broadcast his reactions. While we can't get Jeff Adachi to take three days off from work to self indulge for our pleasure, we can get him watching old speeches and interviews of himself. We will live broadcast Jeff Adachi watching himself in the museum for three hours in "Jeff Adachi Watches Himself."
3. Tilda Swinton gets a Dhaya Makeover*
Everyone's favorite fake Asian Tilda Swinton slept on display at the MOMA in 2013 in a performance lauded as "not innovative." Comedian Dhaya Lakshminarayanan and docent comedian Justin Lucas are going to will make live human exhibition a lot more interesting (and political) when Dhaya goes LIVE ON DISPLAY in the South Asian galleries of the Asian Art Museum. Expect a lot of Indian cultural information you never knew before, and maybe even an arranged marriage!
*I can't take full credit for being the first to satirize colonial museum culture. Guillermo Gomez Pena and Coco Fusco dropped the mic pretty good with "The Year of the White Bear" (1992). And my friend James Luna lay inside a museum vitrine in a gallery dedicated to American Indian displays in "Artifact Display"(1987).
4. Yoko Ono's Cut Piece Reimagined by a Drag Queen
I actually love this piece by Yoko Ono and don't think it needs to be trolled as much as given a drag queen revisioning. In 1965, Yoko Ono sat silently wearing her best clothes while audience members are instructed to cut off pieces to take home. It's a metaphor for women, non-attachment, and all the ways the world takes pieces of us.
In "Khmera's Kut Piece," audience members will be able to cut away and take a piece of drag queen Khmera Rouge's Final Walk gown (pictured above) from her reign as 50th Empress elected Empress of San Francisco.
"I feel like I gave so much of myself during the reign. So why not give away a little more?" -- Khmera Rouge
5. My Mother's Worst Nightmare: Vito Acconci's Seedbed reimagined by Philip Huang
In 1972, Vito Acconci performed "Seedbed." He lay under a fabricated wooden floorboard of a gallery jerking off for eight hours a day. He murmured his sexual fantasies which were broadcast on speakers. Instead of getting arrested, he made art history.
On September 8, performance artist Philip Huang will be mummified in a blanket in the China Tomb Section reinterpreting Seedbed as "Moaning Piece". I'm not sure what Philip is going to do under that blanket but knowing Philip, my mother will tell me it was gross while others will say it was hilarious.
6. Faiza Farah turning the #WhiteArtistGaze on its head with "The Black Woman is Present"
#TheRacistIsPresent started trending last week when proofs of Marina Abramovic's memoir revealed descriptions of Australian aboriginal "like dinosaurs." White artist gaze much? Faiza Farah will re-interpret Abramovic's "The Artist is Present" with "The Black Woman is Present". For three hours, she will sit and gaze into the eyes of whoever sits with her.
Faiza is not Asian American but was interested in collaborating with me on this piece to make connections of the history of shared solidarity between Asian Americans and African Americans during the Civil Rights movement of the 60s, most notably with Yuri Kochiyama and Richard Aoki.
"There is an opportunity for continued solidarity in this era of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. When we take a moment to connect with each other, we can see that we are stronger together than we are apart." -- Faiza Farah
7. PokemonGo as a Live Action more Social(ist) Game-- PikaChe!
When I found out the Asian Art Museum was a PokemonGo gym that could distract my audience-- I had to meet the devil in the middle. I read this article about how PokemonGo is proof that Socialism can work, it got me thinking that we should bring live action Pokemon to the masses. So we are combining Socialist icons with Pokemon monsters! Audiences can actually capture them roaming about the museum! They are played by Takeo Rivera and Jai Lei Yee.
And if none of this is of interest to you, well, there's always the photo booth and the bar at the event.
Kristina Wong is a performance artist, comedian and the mastermind of Takeover: Kristina Wong at San Francisco Asian Art Museum on September 8. She will be touring her funny show The Wong Street Journal to Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Portland, OR in October. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook!