Student Art Action at UC Berkeley

10 09 2013

Monday, Sept. 9 in front of Dwinelle Hall.











KŪMĀRÉ: Documentary plays on fetishism of Oriental Cosmology

11 08 2012

“I have always wanted to connect with a true authentic person from India.”

Official Trailer for Kūmāré: the true story of a false prophet, a documentary about an Indian American man from New Jersey who impersonates an Indian guru and builds a following of real people in the American Southwest:

Bursting the bubble of “Eat, Pray, Love” fetishism, the film about “this perfect simple man” and the investment of his followers’ devotion is playing to rave reviews of its humor, depth, and complexity, around the country.

A great counterpoint to contemporary American Orientalist fantasies of Asian “spirituality” recently seen in the New York Times or manifested in an art museum, here’s hoping it comes to a theater near you.

Update: Filmmaker and star Vikram Gandhi on The Colbert Report.

Via Racialicious: Critique of Asian Canadian’s Orientalist Fantasies

31 07 2012

There’s a great article on Racialicious today by Guest Contributor Aditi Surie von Czechowski, “Modern Love In Mumbai’s ‘Wild West’: A Critique Of Orientalist Fantasies In Contemporary Travel Narratives

Edward Saïd's Orientalism

On Racialicious today, by Guest Contributor Aditi Surie von Czechowski, “Modern Love In Mumbai’s ‘Wild West’: A Critique Of Orientalist Fantasies In Contemporary Travel Narratives”

The author opens with a critique of the NY Times coverage of India in general, small tidbit here (emphasis added):

“Combined with Nick Kristof’s regular martyring operations to rescue underage trafficked prostitutes in Kolkatan brothels, what we have here is a consistent picture of an India that is not yet “fully modern,” informed by the liberal discourse of rights and progress. It seems that the New York Times will never, ever tire of incessantly replicating imperial tropes.”

Sound like a museum we know?

The bulk of the article then deconstructs the Orientalism in a travel story that appears in the Times’ Modern Love column by May Jeong, a Korean Canadian reporter based in Toronto (serving as a reminder that whiteness is not limited by skin color).  Surie von Czechowski notes:

“Jeong’s writing is of a piece with that familiar eroticization of India–Orientalist imaginings of the lushness of nature combine with the well-worn tropes of India as chaotic, as a seductive and sexual place of pure experience, spirituality and true self-knowledge, with sinewy yet docile natives. If I had a penny for every time a (usually white and almost always North American or European) person has gushed to me about how much they love India because they found God or themselves there/how it was wild and filthy and beautiful all at the same time, I’d have a serious amount of change by now.”

Illustration by Brian Rea

NY Times’ Modern Love: “Welcomed With Open Arms in Mumbai”, by May Jeong (Illustration: Brian Rea/NY Times)

Again, it reminds us of how exhibitions at the Asian Art Museum operate, reinforcing the Orientalist notion of absolute difference between our all-too-generic workaday West and the exotic East:

“Though Jeong writes about the difference in a way that doesn’t malign it, what is of utmost importance here is that the separateness of the two domains is upheld and reinforced, thus leaving the imperial ideology underpinning Orientalism untouched.”

Much like the museum, this Asian Canadian Westerner asserts that she can transcend this difference, but instead, as Surie von Czechowski points out (emphasis added), “ends up reaffirming the notion of the essential, unchanging, and unchangeable difference…”

PHANTOMS wall text

Reframing the Contemporary as Ancient, Immutable, “Tradition” of Oriental Otherness: actual text on wall at museum

It’s very much how, with the current PHANTOMS OF ASIA exhibition, the Asian Art Museum reaffirms this same characteristic immutability of absolute difference by re-framing the contemporary by forcing it into a context of pre-modern antiquity, under the euphemisms of “Asian Tradition” and “Contemporary Awakens the Past.”

We’ve left the really good stuff by Surie von Czechowski about Jeong’s seething “Orientalist and Romantic notions of sexuality, pleasure, and purity” for you to read first hand at Racialicious, highly recommended.

Selling the Spiritual:  "Ancient Oriental Wisdom," for sale at the museum gift shop

Selling the Spiritual: “Ancient Oriental Wisdom,” for sale at the museum gift shop

Ace Museum all in for the 1%: Videos from the Unknown Artists

27 03 2012

More from the Unknown Artists: (previous posts 1, 2)

If you have a personal experience with Douglas Chrismas, Ace Gallery or Ace Museum, we encourage you to visit ArtLeaks ( and to leave your story.

Petition on

We are the Unknown Artists.
We expose economic interests.
We increase transparency.
We aim for the distribution of wealth and information.
We will not be censored.
We will not be stopped.
Fuck authorship, fix the system!

Unknown Artists of the 99%: Call to Action to fix broken system

25 03 2012

Via Unknown Artists:

Unknown Artists

Greetings Artist,

We are the Unknown Artists.  We are asking for your help in fixing the broken gallery system that allows artists to be routinely ripped off and taken advantage of.  The system that allows gallery owners to make millions while using unpaid interns.  A system where artists are afraid ask for a contract and then worry that they will never be paid if their work sells. Read the rest of this entry »

Tate à Tate interventionist audio tour of Tate museums

22 03 2012

Tate á TatePlatform, Liberate Tate and Art Not Oil present a site-specific sound artwork themed around the issue of BP sponsorship of Tate.

Tate á Tate is created by Ansuman Biswas (Tate Britain), Isa Suarez, Mae Martin and Mark McGowan (Tate Boat) and Phil England and Jim Welton (Tate Modern).

Tate à Tate website

Download the three-part audio tour and go to Tate Britain, Tate Boat and Tate Modern to participate in this interventionist sound artwork – or listen at home.

The site includes a How-To Guide and Workshops and Actions as well as an Introduction to oil sponsorship of the arts, with a link to the open publication Culture Beyond Oil.


American Spring is Here: Live from Zuccotti / Liberty Park #OWS 6-Month Anniversary

17 03 2012

Whose Park? Our Park!

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