Thursday, September 16, 2021

Korean Portraits at the Asian

The Asian Art Museum is filled with more patrons than usual these days on account of the Japanese immersive multimedia installation, teamLab: Continuity. I visited for the fourth time recently and was once again totally discombobulated. For calmer viewing, I checked out the second floor of the museum and stumbled across some striking contemporary art in the Korean wing, including the 1997 Cycle of Time by Bay Area artist Young June Lew.
In 1997, Do Ho Suh scanned the photographs of 64 of his male classmates and created a digital composite, followed by a distaff version of his female classmates. The result is High School Uni-Face: Boy and High School Uni-Face: Girl.
The same artist also created an installation of replicas of all the uniforms he had worn from childhood through his mandatory stint in the Korean military with Uniform/s: Self-Portrait/s: My 39 Years.
It's both funny and vaguely sinister.
The premier Korean feminist artist, Yun Suknam, who was born in 1939, has devoted herself to painting the unrecorded portraits of women through history. The 2005 painted assemblage above depicts Heo Nanseolheon, a famous 16th century poet.
From 1992-2019, she also created Geneaology II, which shows a lucky woman and an unlucky woman in front of a blow-up of an official Korean geneaology record.
The lucky woman is lucky because she has given birth to a son, and the unlucky woman has hanged herself because she was not able to extend the patriarchal lineage. As the artist's statement explains, neither one of them are part of the official geneaology because women are not recorded.
One of the great artists of our time, Hung Liu, died in Oakland last month at the age of 73, provoking widespread sorrow. It was great seeing a painting by her, The Long Wharf: Chinese Junks (The Three Graces), and a potent reminder of what has been lost over the centuries by the suppression of women artists.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Vaccine Mandate vs. Climate Change Protestors

An anti-vax mandate protest took place in San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza last Friday at noon.
The crowd of about 200 people were an odd mix.
The gathering was to protest San Francisco's requirement that all city and county employees be vaccinated or possibly lose their jobs.
The historically racist, right-wing San Francisco Fire Department, whose members tend to live outside city limits, has been one of the biggest complainers along with the SF Police Department.
My reaction is to question what part of the term "public safety" they don't understand. Passing on a deadly virus to coworkers and the public at large is NOT public safety.
Maybe we need a T-shirt proclaiming "MY BODY, MY CHOICE TO NOT BE INFECTED BY THE UNVACCINATED."
There was also a professional anti-vaxxer crowd involved, complete with speakers who looked like Fox News blondes, yelling at the crowd, "Do we believe in mandates that take away our freedom?" which responded with a shouted "NO!"
There was a small booth set up advertising another anti-vax mandate rally in Sacramento on September 8th.
Unless you want these people in charge of California government, as they are in Texas and Florida for instance, please vote NO on the recall of Governor Newsom, and make sure you not only mail your ballot in but remind at least three people you know to do the same.
The spectacle of all these well-paid, mostly white protesters claiming personal victimization was surreal, almost as if they had left-wing protest envy and were determined to cast themselves as an Oppressed Minority of Freedom Fighters.
In truth, they are selfish lunatics who have been primed with disinformation by the right-wing rage machine.
If the City and County need to fire some of them, public safety can only improve.
Coincidentally, a protest march from the Federal Building on Golden Gate Avenue by the group Youth vs. Apocalypse (click here) had just ended at the steps of City Hall.
They were demanding action on climate change, in particular stopping the completion of the Line 3 pipeline which is to transport tar sands shale oil from Alberta to Wisconsin.
Many of them were gobbling down pizza and other treats that were being provided by a small army of older women.
"Who are you people?" I asked them, and one of the ladies pulled her shirt open so I could read the name of her organization. Formed in 2016, it's a group of grandmothers in Berkeley and Oakland who have decided climate change is the most important issue they can work on for their grandchildren (click here for their website).
The juxtaposition of those protesting for a communal good and those protesting for personal entitlement could not have been more stark.