The General Ridiculousness of Trying to Define Asian American Anything

JKS alumn Jai Arun Ravine is a text-based artist working in video, movement and performance. Most recently they are the author of a book of experimental poetics, แล้ว AND THEN ENTWINE (Tinfish Press, 2011); the creator of a film project on Thai and Thai American trans-masculinities, TOM/TRANS/THAI, which screened at the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre (Bangkok, Thailand) and the Sabina Lee Gallery (Los Angeles); and the creator of a multi-media performance on identity tourism, THE PACKAGE TOUR, which was staged at Subterranean Arthouse (Berkeley) and the African American Art & Culture Complex (San Francisco). A recipient of fellowships from ComPeung, Djerassi and Kundiman, Jai is a staff writer for Lantern Review.

This video was created for a collaborative presentation on “Interchange, Transformation, Exuberance: North Asian American Poetry, Performance, and New Media” curated by Sueyeun Juliette Lee with Ray Hsu, Tung-Hui Hu and Cynthia Arrieu-King for the Fall Convergence on Poetics at the University of Washington, Bothell on September 29, 2012.

Through dialogues and collaborative writings engaged in prior to the conference, we discussed many things, among them what Juliette phrased as “the general ridiculousness of trying to define Asian American anything” and the kind of commodification of the category “Asian American” in regards to literature and popular culture and the constant tagging of identities and outliers. We were looking toward possibilities of being and what Juliette called an “exuberance” of “Asian American” beings/aesthetics/cultural productions.