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Archive for the ‘Arts’ Category

David Henry Hwang’s Plays in Chicago

Posted by litdaily on June 26, 2011

Chinglish, the latest play by David Henry Hwang, premieres today at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre with a scheduled run through July 24, 2011. Chinglish takes on a theme that Hwang also explored in his popular Broadway play M. Butterfly: a Western man in China entrapped in his orientalist vision of the East as feminine, mysterious, and at the same time also incomprehensible. Hwang’s latest play is about an American businessman in China and reprises the East-West encounter in the context of fear of a surging Chinese economy. While Gallimard in M. Butterfly was a French diplomat navigating the war theatre in South-east Asia, the changed occupation of the protagonist in Chinglish to a businessman reflects that capitalist economy has replaced the paradigm of militarism as the new frontier that drives the West’s imagination of China. You can find Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones’s preview of Chinglish and an interesting discussion of Hwang’s writing process here.

Another Hwang play Yellow Face is playing at the Silk Road Theatre Company and is produced in collaboration with Goodman. Yellow Face seeks to bring honesty to discussions about the role of race in casting media productions. The play’s context includes Hwang’s role in the controversy surrounding the casting of New York theatre production of Miss Saigon in 1990, when Asian Americans protested the casting of Jonathan Pryce, a Welsh-born white actor, to play an Asian character…more>>


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Eye on India festival, July 8th-17th

Posted by litdaily on June 22, 2011

Eye on India festival will take place from July 8th-17th in Chicago. The festival will showcase a number of events from literature to yoga/ayurveda…find out more>>

In terms of literature, Tarun Tejpal, Hari Kunzru, Shrabani Basu, and Nayantara Sahgal will be discussing their work at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Huma Bhabha Exhibit at Rhona Hoffman Gallery

Posted by litdaily on April 22, 2011

Huma Bhabha’s sculpture and art work exhibit at Chicago’s Rhona Hoffman Gallery runs through May 14. Bhabha’s intriguing sculptures, made with found and inexpensive materials such as Styrofoam and chicken wire, are representations of both the grotesque and the fantastical. Her work bears witness to the histories of colonialism and war…more>>

Huma Bhabha was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and currently lives and works in Poughkeepsie, New York. Her work is included in numerous collections including those at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the Saatchi Gallery, London, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Rudresh Mahanthappa to Perform in Chicago

Posted by litdaily on September 17, 2010

Rudresh Mahanthappa Quartet with Craig Taborn (piano), François Moutin (bass), and Dan Weiss (drums) performs at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago with multiple performances, September 23-26, 2010. South Asian American alto saxophonist Mahanthappa’s jazz is inflected by Carnatic music of South India…more>>

Over the years, critics have projected their own racial assumptions on to Mahanthappa’s music. In this 2008 interview that Rochester’s City Newspaper did with the jazz artist, Saby Reyes-Kulkarni suggests that “Unsurprisingly, his work arises largely out of the persistent sense of displacement so common to the children of immigrants.” In contrast, Gary Giddins’s review of Mahanthappa’s breakthrough album “Kinsmen” in The New Yorker argues that we should be wary of pigeonholing Mahanthappa’s music as he has worked to precisely elude ethnic assumptions, such as those made in the City Newspaper interview. Giddins writes that Mahanthappa is “actually as American as apple pie, or Barack Obama.” Mahanthappa is not so naïve as to think that he or his art can transcend race but he does want to engage with race on his own terms without letting it become a constraining label. He does not disavow his Indian ancestry, but at the same time his music sensibilities are not exclusively devoted to the “Indian-jazz-hybrid-fusion” label.

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India’s Heritage of Sexuality and Erotica – The Kamasutra

Posted by litdaily on September 15, 2010

Shekhar Deshpande’s extremely interesting article on Indian heritage, culture, and sexuality looks at the contradictions of a society that claims a heritage of sexuality and erotica while simultaneously being conservative.  He, furthermore, makes links between western modernism, pornography, and erotica…more>>

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Storm King Wavefield

Posted by litdaily on September 15, 2010

Maya Lin’s sculpture park plays on the interaction of nature and art…more>>

Lin is, at the very least, a gracious artist. Her work has always been politically and aesthetically alluring.

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From Canefields to Freedom

Posted by litdaily on September 15, 2010

Tribhangi Dance Theatre is currently presenting their new show, From Canefields to Freedom, which chronicles the journey of South Asian migrations to South Africa through performance…more>>

The last ten years has seen an emergence of literature, theatre, and arts that focus on different ways that people have migrated to other places. Some of these stories focus on coolie labor while others focus on merchant classes.  Either way, there is some recognition that transnational mobility didn’t occur in overly simplistic and anglo-centric ways, i.e. from Korea to United States, from India to United States, from Caribbean to United States.

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Your Weekly Moment of Seriousness

Posted by litdaily on September 12, 2010

In this week’s clip, MADtv’s Bobby Lee offers his comic point of view on being a Korean American:

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Laura Kina’s New Art Show “Sugar”

Posted by litdaily on September 10, 2010

Artist Laura Kina’s “Sugar” paintings recall obake ghost stories and feature Japanese and Okinawan picture brides turned machete-carrying sugar cane plantation field laborers on the Big Island of Hawaii. Kina’s new solo exhibit begins today in Chicago’s Woman Made Gallery with an opening reception and runs through October 28…more>>

Kina’s images draw our attention to women’s labor in sugar plantations by emphasizing their hands and bodies. The women’s faces, however, remain obscured. Women’s labor is usually not noticed or seen, quite like the faintly perceptible faces of these women in Kina’s paintings…more>>

Laura Kina's Kasuri

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The Ascent of Asian American Fashion Designers

Posted by litdaily on September 5, 2010

Asian and Asian American fashion designers including Jason Wu, Alexander Wang, Prabal Gurung, and Thakoon Panichgul are making headlines by winning awards and dressing Michelle Obama. Their financial success and leadership in an industry that has an eye on the developing fashion markets of Asia has made fashion design a lucrative and “respectable” career option for Asian Americans…more>>

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Your Weekly Moment of Seriousness

Posted by litdaily on September 4, 2010

This week’s featured comic sketch is a collaboration between Hari Kondabolu and Randall Park titled “Dumb Professor”:

And here is a recent interview with the actor, writer, and stand-up comic Randall Park in Hyphen.

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“The Merchants of Bollywood” in Chicago

Posted by litdaily on September 3, 2010

Indian dance theater production “The Merchants of Bollywood” will be playing in Chicago on October 1 and 2. The musical presents the story of conflict and reconciliation between traditional folk-dance and modern dance forms in Bollywood choreography as it plays out in the generational dynamics of the Merchant family…more>>

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Voices of Resistance Nine: Fair and Lovely

Posted by litdaily on September 1, 2010

The Old Town School of Folk Music in partnership with the South Asian Progressive Action Collective (SAPAC) presents The Voices of Resistance Nine (VOR9) on Sept 12, 2010…more>>

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Kumail Nanjiani Stand-Up in Chicago Today

Posted by litdaily on August 29, 2010

Kumail Nanjiani, the South Asian comic who grew up in Pakistan and was profiled by The New York Times last year, is going to be performing in Chicago today, August 29, 2010. He will be performing with other Chicago comics Joselyn Hughes, Adam Burke and Beth Stelling…more>>

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Margaret Cho to Perform in Chicago

Posted by litdaily on August 27, 2010

Asian American comedienne Margaret Cho’s new album Cho Dependent is out in stores now. Cho will be performing in Chicago on October 16…more>>

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Asian Americans and the Arizona Immigration Law

Posted by litdaily on August 23, 2010

Asian American Writers’ Workshop has demonstrated great leadership in organizing “Wordstrike” a writers’ initiative protesting Arizona’s SB1070…more>>

The writers’ statement boycotting Arizona’s anti-immigration law is notable because it recognizes the power of language that the state uses to deny the undocumented immigrants their humanity and human rights. More importantly, the statement also remarks on another related law passed in Arizona HB 2281, which did not get sustained attention in the mainstream media compared to SB 1070. HB 2281 makes illegal the offering of any ethnic studies courses, or academic courses that focus on any specific racial group or that promote ideas of ethnic solidarity. The writers’ statement recognizes the centrality of arts and culture to conflicts about belonging in America: there are certain histories and literatures that are recognized and marked as American and others as not American or even un-American. Thus, for those who say that arts and artists should be dissociated from activism, the writers’ statement suggests that because culture is often central to politics as demonstrated by this situation, artists are already a part of the political realm.

For Asian Americans, the topic of immigration presents a unique opportunity to understand how their own histories are intertwined with those of Latinos. While Black-Latino dialogue initiatives have received attention in public conversations and academia, Asian Americans have lagged behind in the discussion. There are two significant starting points for this discussion that have been overlooked in the mainstream coverage of Latino immigration debate and Arizona’s anti-immigration law so far. First, the fiction that illegal immigration is restricted to the Latino community masks the fact of illegal Asians in the U.S. Statistical estimates range from about 220,000 Indians to about 1 million Asian Americans living in the U.S. illegally. Second, the media and public are increasingly relying on the rhetoric of “national security” in discussing undocumented immigrants. This rhetoric clearly overlaps with the language being used to criminalize South Asian Muslims. These two aspects point to the connections that can provide the foundation for a sustained dialogue and lasting solidarity between Asian Americans and Latinos in America.

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