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Dear Reader,

Now that the semester and year has ended (about a month ago), our Microcosm posts will be less frequent, at times even on hold until school starts up again. Til then, wishing you a restful, productive summer! Enjoy!




"A Midsumer Night's Dream"

Last year Rivals of the West, MICA’s theatre company, put on Hair, a stellar performance that sold out the house. This year the production is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an old favourite written by Shakespeare.

One’s first impression of the production might be how small the set and seating availability is. But after the first scene the small set changes into a beautiful forest with layers and layer of trees that reach the ceiling and trunks thicker than your waist. Combined with the lighting, It looked like a dreamland any child or adult would want to get lost in.

Directed by  Peter Shipley, and produced by Christopher Shipley. the play begins with a  dispute over whom Hermia, a young Athenian girl, should marry: Lysander, the man she loves, or Demetrius, the man her father approves of. She and her beau run away to marry but are followed by Lysander after he is tipped off by Helena, a girl who happens to be in love with Demetrius. This love rectangle of sorts is further complicated when the faerie folk decide to take matters into their own hands.

Woven into this story are the Mechanicals, a group of craftsmen who are directing their own play to perform before the Duke. One of these outrageous performers then becomes an object of affection to the Queen as revenge by the King. More hilarity then ensues as a result.

This delightful performance does the comedy justice, and will leave the audience laughing and sympathizing for the characters throughout the show.

You can purchase tickets for the show online or at the MICA bookstore.

The dates for the performance are as follows:

Wed. March 24 –Sat. March 27: 8pm

Sun. March 28: 7pm

Wed. March 31 – Sat. April 3: 8pm

Sunday, April 4: 7pm

Stay tuned next week for mini-interviews with some of the crew members who worked on the show!

Exhibition Review

If one has not met Sherie Rose, please visit the Gateway Gallery and observe her in her unnatural habitat. Sherie, in actuality is the alter ego of Senior Painting Major Flora Choi, whose performance piece; Deluded Reality: Imagination Infringements of Sherie Rose took place on Thursday, March 11th. The gallery houses an octagonal dwelling composed of eight doors, in which Sherie works at her typewriter. The performance however is not only meant to be viewed. The audience is invited to interact with Sherie and get to know this intriguing alter ego. She is a bit shy, and skittish yet welcome to questions, she seems on many levels confused and there is a theme of displacement in her existence. Adopted from Korea into an English family and at the same time searching again to build a new family, Sherie seems to be in a struggle to find a place to belong to. The gallery in a sense is another example of her displacement. She is quite unsure why she is there and for what purpose. She has admitted that she would rather be somewhere else, and she is a little suspicious about her predicament. To one observer she asked if he is one of “them” who put her in the “octagon,” referring to her dwelling installed in the gallery. While one’s response normally would be “no,” in actuality the audience is partially responsible for Sherie’s trapped existence since the space was constructed for their viewing and interactive pleasure. The exhibit is and interactive experience, in that you are able to personally interact with the project. Through this interaction the viewer is brought directly into Sherie’s world, which is full of oddities and “delusions” about what may be going on around her. There is a direct recognition of her other self, Flora, whose presence is indicated in a video in the show, and Sherie recognizes Flora, although is somewhat confused at her identity. In that sense it is unclear whether Sherie is supposed to exist in her own world that the viewer is invited to discover, or if some part of her is also aware of the rest of the world. In her world we talks about the people close to her, but the only “people” from her world that we see in the tangible sense is her stuffed bear. It is highly recommended to visit Sherie and learn about her strange new world, which includes personal written and photographic documentations, obsessive-compulsive tendencies and phobias. Despite her shy nature, she seems lonely so try to get to know her and ask her questions. I may also add that it is amusing to provoke Sherie, so visit the Gateway Gallery and check her schedule which is posted to see when she will be in. Get there before April 2nd and prepare for an interesting interaction.

Jenny Robinson 2010

“English Only” is a political movement aimed at establishing English as the only permissible language allowed in use of all government legislation, communications, forms, and actions.  The movement’s overarching goal is to set English as the United State’s official language, not necessarily eliminating the use of “foreign” languages but definitely undermining them.

The most recent event related to English Only took place in Nashville, Tennessee.  The amendment put forward by English Only advocates was voted against on January 22nd, 2009. Fortunately, the proposal was denied.  The proposed charter amendment 1 and 2 basically read: no person shall have a right to government services in any other language other than English. Over 40,000 voters were against ratification of the amendment while about 30,000 voters were for the amendment.

I am particularly bias against this event because it greatly affects me as an immigrant who is still making a place for myself in the United States. When I first got off the flight at Dulles Airport from Korea six years ago, I felt like I needed to change my clothes, not because they were dirty or anything but because I felt like I needed to prepare in becoming a new person. The flight was thirteen hours long, I was tired but pleased to feel a sense of nostalgia of the only other trip I made to America eleven years ago.  Of course that time I came as a tourist visiting family, this time I came as an immigrant.  There was a strange intermingling of the tasty, buttery sensation of America I remembered feeling as ten-year-old girl and the new anxiety and gathering of strength I was feeling as an immigrant.  When I landed at J.F.K airport back in the summer of 1992, I saw popcorn and delighted in its smell.  Eleven years later at Dulles, I could smell the popcorn again.  I knew things were completely different now, to start off with I was in an entirely different airport. Yet I kept going back to the same feelings I felt as a kid, as a tourist, full of giddy delusions of America.  It wasn’t until I remember that I wasn’t going back that it hit me. I booked a one-way ticket, not round-trip that summer in 2003.

Six years later, I became a naturalized citizen of the United States.  I pledged an oath of allegiance and denounced any loyalties to South Korea. I had a new motherland now. For the ceremony, speaking the oath of allegiance in English was worthwhile. It bound me with the other naturalizing citizens in the ceremony with me. But I knew that these English words were probably just as hollow, if not more, to many of these new citizens.  If there was any real oath to be pledged, it would be said in our mother tongues.  Even though the English Only proposition is limited to the communications and actions of government, it sounds, to me, like the first comers bossing around new comers. Learn or Leave despite the nature of the United States, the diversity, which should be celebrated not delineated. The citizens of the United States are all from different countries and should be respectful for the freedom being sought for by all who come.

If advocators for the English Only movement are concerned with immigrants adopting English and assimilating then they should advocate further support for government interpreters and foreign language programs because being in the dark helps no one.  If being able to communicate is the issue then the communication must come from both sides.  One can’t be expected to understand if no one, especially the government, doesn’t lend a helping hand.  Immigrants know more than enough about the saying “When in Rome do as Romans do”. We all know that English is the assumed “official” language of the United States. But this doesn’t need to be enforced and shoved in people’s faces, if it’s going to be English Anything than how about English First.

Immigrants always make the present progressive. They are learning English from the past to the future constantly with willingness and desire to settle down in this country and being hopeful for a better life.  Assimilation is a process. As each generation makes the progress, it will be naturally resolved into a new society. No law can speed it up. Lawful enforcement is merely imposing an artificial language barrier. It rather causes helpless immigrants and incurs marginalized immigrants coming from non-English speaking countries. Speaking English shouldn’t be a privilege or a struggle or a prerequisite or a burden.  It shouldn’t be a statement like “Learn or Leave.”  It’s a process of patience.  Children of immigrants clearly pick up English perfectly without their parent’s language being beaten out of them.  To many of us, ABC is not as easy as one, two, three.  Those of use who have the privilege of speaking English shouldn’t expect it to come so quickly to others, and we most definitely shouldn’t expect others to just drop their first-language just because “In America we speak American.”  Language is a huge part of our identities, and foreign languages should be shared as gifts, like wise, English should be shared not enforced.

Jae Lee, MICA BFA ’09

The current ASA exhibition in Brown’s Rosenberg gallery not only discusses the literal and psychological hunger artists have towards their art, it displays a varied spectrum of mediums and subject matter while at the same time correlating to the subject of Asia.  There are examples of work made in fiber, garment design, illustration, painting, paper-cut, drawing, and silkscreen, of which I will only describe a few.

Son Young Kwon’s large silkscreen stretched on panels entitled Americanize, speaks of the spread of American consumer culture onto Eastern culture through mass media, fast food, and electronics with logos of Disney, McDonald’s and Apple.  The construction of the prints stretched on screens that are hinged together are reminiscent the display used with Asian brush painting.  Thus in a sense the American images are replacing the traditional images and practices of the past.

On the flip side, aspects of Asian consumer products are also shown in Jennifer Tam’s felted sculptures of two white dogs barking at one another, entitled Mitsy and Tina Have a Discussion.  The piece is facetious in the manner that the two small, white dogs appear to be fiercely barking at one another with angrily contorted expressions. Yet they both appear to be very pristine well kept dogs in the softness of the white fur that is rendered and the pink ribbons on their ears.  It appears to have an aspect of the cutesy quality of Asian consumer products, which transform functional utilitarian objects such as pencils and rulers into cartoonish and frilly objects with tassels.

Further into dark humor, Max Lewis displays a series ten illustrative ink and gold leaf drawings in a narrative of the gradual fall of a golden-hearted young boy.  The series is entitled The Dark Forest.  The boy has his heart ripped out, and his tempted by a devil, which consumes his soul.  This series displays a stylistic look perhaps reminiscent of Japanese manga comics.

Another piece discusses the blending of two cultures, specifically Korea and Japan through the ethnicity in the garment piece by Yeji Byun entitled When Shibori meets Hanbok.  The garment displays a layered floor length skirt and jacket with long sleeves that is cut short at the torso and tied in the front, the style of the Korean traditional hanbok.  However, the fabric is dyed in the Japanese practice of Shibori.  The piece may represent a biracial lineage, the cultural influence of Japan when during their occupation in Korea, or simply a blending of the two cultures.

Overall the current ASA exhibition was successful in the sense that it displayed a variety of mediums and aspects of Asian culture.   It is highly recommended that one should visit the show before it is taken down on February 8th.

Jenny Robinson 2010

A few days ago, the Asian Student Alliance (ASA) finished putting up a show called “Hunger: The Artist’s Insatiable Nature” in the Rosenberg Gallery at MICA. I acted as curator – a first for me, despite having a Curatorial Studies concentration.

The concept of Hunger came to mind almost immediately since most ASA events center around food. The club had been holding these events for some time when I joined last year. As former ASA officer Julie Cheng told me, food is a way to bring people together – an easy and enjoyable way to introduce people to another culture.

The feeling of hunger is maybe the one thing all artists have in common. Whether you paint, draw, sculpt, perform, most likely you’re making art because you have to: it’s the fourth basic need besides eating, breathing, and sleeping. When you go a long time without creating art, something withers away inside you; and the feeling of fulfillment you get right after making a work of art is not unlike the feeling of being stuffed full after a delicious meal. That feeling doesn’t last forever though, and soon enough you find yourself in the studio again, feeding that undying craving.

All of the pieces I chose for the show had a palpable feeling of excitement and involvement of the heart or mind or both. Some of the pieces spoke of hunger more specifically, for hunger can also appear in art as a particular obsession (for example with a subject or material). However, they were all visually diverse in terms of media and style, and this presented the greatest challenge in curating the show – how to make them cohesive. I felt as if I had been given a handful of magnetic poetry, and I had to make the most pleasing sentence possible instead of a jumble of words. Putting aside inexperience and time constraints, I sincerely hope I did end up saying something pertinent and cohesive.

I felt that this theme of artistic motivation – hunger – was important to address in an art school. Yes, artists are bonded together by this similar desire and need to make art, but only a small percentage of art students actually stay in the studio after graduation. Where does the hunger go? Does it lie dormant, expressing itself whenever it can, or does it die altogether? I, and probably countless others, have a gnawing paranoia that I will fall into the majority here. It would be interesting to try to predict which category the artists in the ASA show will fall into. It’s a poignant fact for art students to face, but this process of natural selection will eventually happen. Perhaps all we can do in the time being is to celebrate hunger while it’s still there.

Jennifer Tam

“Hunger: The Artist’s Insatiable Nature” will be up in the Rosenberg Gallery (2nd floor Brown) until February 8.

Hiroshi Nohara has been living in the Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico since he flew in from Tokyo on Sept 2nd.  He has become a small celebrity.  He has been given food by the airport fast food restaurants and passengers and gives autographs and photographs.  He says that his stay is indefinite, and so far his travel visa remains valid until March.

• Malaysian court freed Raja Petra Kamarudin, who had been arrested and detained without trial on Sept 12th.  Kamarudin was arrested for comments  that were considered offensive to the government and Muslims.  Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has been using blogs to challenge freedom of the press.  Blogs are said to have influenced outcomes in elections in Malaysia.

• On Thanksgiving Day there were a series of terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, in which people were taken hostage at the Oberoi Trident and theTaj Mahal hotel.  Nearly 195 people died, including tourists and businessmen from Europe and the United States.  The siege on the Taj Mahal hotel lasted 3 days.

• China protested against a meeting between the Dalai Lama and the French President by canceling a meeting with the European Union.  Chinese authorities are angered because they believe the Dalai Lama will enforce Tibet’s independence from China.

•  Polish president Lech Kaczynsk held talks with South Korean president Lee Myung Bak asking for support for building Poland’s infrastructure which includes roads, subways, and nuclear power plants.  The latter idea is not popular with Polish citizens because of the nuclear power catastrophe in Chernobyl, Ukraine.

• The first Vietnamese-American was elected to Congress in Louisiana.  His opponent, Democratic candidate William Jefferson, was accused of bribery and money laundering.

Mission Statement

We’re Artists meeting and talking with other Artists. Our interest is the Asian diaspora, and its farflung influences–and on the other hand, how Asian Culture and Arts have been influenced by the inter-culturalistic points its met in its travels. Tune in on Sundays for Microcosm’s regular goodness, and throughout the week for special surprises.
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