This conversation is part of Lucky (Lucia) Liu’s Asian/American project in which she explores identity politics through discourse with Asian-American artists and arts administrators over food via Skype calls. Using food as a conduit for intimacy, these the one-on-one conversations took place over the fall of 2015. The project culminated in series of mediated group discussions with the same artists at Sediment Arts in Richmond, VA.
An excerpt from our conversation is below–please click here for the full interview with photos.
L: What did you make?
K: I made lunch in the sense of hunting and gathering, so I got some kale, and rockfish, and sauce. What about you?
L: I made a snack, it’s kind of thrown together, potatoes – I’ve been really wanting french fries but can’t buy them all the time so I just buy potatoes and fry them and eat them with ketchup. And then some dumplings. Let’s start with, what do you do?
K: I have another job that helps pay the bills and it’s a creative thing and doesn’t take up too much of my time, so I feel very lucky that I don’t have to depend on my art for money because if I did I’d be starving and dead. It’s a real luxury to not have to do that because in my mind, growing up, that was what it meant to be an artist, making a living off your work, and as I went through school and went through school again I was like, oh, that’s actually terrible, at least for me! And I feel like realizing that there’s other systems besides the gallery system to go through, there’s not really a hierarchy like I thought, or that looks like there would be.
L: What hierarchy do you mean?
K: Like trying to explain to people, how does it work, being an artist? Do you sell your stuff? You can be with a gallery and they can sell your work, and that seems to be the most “authorized” way, the most commercial capitalistic way that makes sense to people. But it’s really terrible in some ways, I’ve had a really bad experience with a gallery and it felt gross and slimy and disrespectful, and I would never put myself through that again just to have a show somewhere. But yeah that really freed me to feel like I can do whatever the fuck I want and I don’t have to worry about selling it or pandering or realistic, practical concerns like that, which was a privilege.
L: I saw the BDSM performance you did based on that, that was so funny!
K: That’s great! That came out of the same ethos, whether it’s the same experience or a metaphor for how things are, definitely comes from that place where it’s like, you can eroticize the thing you’re most scared of to have control or power over it. It’s really funny.
L: I like eroticiziation as a means of controlling, and its element of humor, what do you think of it?