The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2022

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JUL-AUG 2022 Issue
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Jen Liu and Elaine W. Ho

Jen Liu, still from ELECTOPORE, 2021-22
Jen Liu, still from ELECTOPORE, 2021-22

From: Elaine W. Ho
To: Jen Liu
Date: Wed, 18 May 2022 09:00:28 +0800
Subject: Re: Meet Sexy Asian Grief!

You prefaced this image with a smirk, knowing how it could be contextualized within this conversation. Maybe it's about ping-pong, or maybe it's about redefining Asian female representation—or both, and-and.

Thinking how to respond in 350 words matches the irony of Asian American + art being summed up as a series of blurbs and subtle calls to arms. Is it time to stake out a territory where Asian Americans have been all along? I think our responses, as artists who also happen to be Asian American, iterate a certain ambivalence about the question.

> I don't think I share your ambivalence. I think ambivalence is a feature
> of self-loathing, whereas multiplicity is a modern condition that Asian
> Americans got the advance beat on, by nature of diaspora.

      >> ”Ambivalence” is not intended here with negative connotations. It is
      >> about the ability to recognize the other, which characterizes
      >> diaspora, multicultural existence(s). Although if it is a feature of
      >> self-loathing, haha, that’s not so inaccurate either. Unfortunately,
      >> my experience does tell me that self-loathing does play a large role
      >> in Chinese—and maybe more so, colonized Hong Kong Chinese
      >> identity.

            >>> Remember how we re-established our conversation: a smackdown
            >>> of European feminist media artists ping-ponging Trumpy China
            >>> conspiracies within our shared listserv—dog-whistling hate
            >>> against Asians in art solidarity circles? If identity defined in
            >>> the negative is a given, I would argue that embodying “Asian
            >>> American” is to accept continual social corrections to create
            >>> the conditions of a (tolerable) existence.

                  >>>> I like that there can be multiple readings of how I
                  >>>> understand this “acceptance” of social corrections. Another
                  >>>> ping-pong between redress with others and negotiating with
                  >>>> ourselves? Forms of learning and unlearning characterize
                  >>>> all of us, but those in the minority have to fight more for
                  >>>> it. Another and-and, or a ping-pong that may require further
                  >>>> reading. We are simply here.


Elaine W. Ho

Elaine W. Ho works between the realms of time-based art, experimental publishing, urban practice and language / likes to drink coffee and tea mixed together / frequent contributor to

Jen Liu

Jen Liu is a New York-based visual artist working in video, painting, dance performance, and biomaterial, on topics of national identity, economy, and the re-motivating of archival artifacts.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2022

All Issues