Process and Research-Finding Art

Music/ Theatre/ Art

empireproductionOriginally intending to focus our research on arts-based cultural activism in Vancouver, we began searching for promising arts organizations in Vancouver online. The two foremost organizations that we discovered were:

Women in Film + television Vancouver Film Festival 

Vancouver International Dance festivalBenKamino47

Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble

MattressWe also started looking at events we might attend where we could also engage through discussion and interviews with attendees. We found a women’s film festival which we figured would offer a feminist lens, but did not seem to have any Asian-centric films on days we could attend. We also found that the Vancouver International Dance Festival was beginning that weekend and thought it might be an interesting site of creative representation and voice, again the performance times didn’t work out. That is when we decided to look at interviewing a dancer, or performer.

The movie Mattress looked interesting and relevant, but it wasn’t playing at a time we could attend. “Under the cover of the darkness, Little Boy Lee and his family dump an old mattress in a dirty Strathcona alley. The next day, blame passes from neighbour to neighbour with no one taking responsibility for the abandoned and illegally dumped mattress. As the situation quickly escalates to all-out suburban war, Little Boy Lee has to take responsibility for his actions and clean up the streets.”

Tetsuro Shigematsu and Asian-Canadian Masculinity

We got in contact with people working on a production of Empire of the Son and it looked like we may be able to interview Tetsuro Shigemitsu. So, we began to research Asian male masculinities and Shigemitsu. This formed our initial research objective—to conduct an interview with TV actor and radio host Tetsuro Shigemitsu and discuss issues relating to his own experiences with cultural activism and dominant discourses of Asian masculinity within the arts in Canada.

We all looked him up and found different kinds of information.

(Alicia) I went on a youtube/internet binge. I found a snippets of his comedy, that talked about race, becoming” politicized,” and all kinds of Asian stereotypes. T.S.’s comedy bit is here.

Other clips I Liked talked about the idea of “Asia,” not being one county, and who is “Asian,” in a very brief comedy clip: Asia is not one country, it’s two, maybe 3…..

Also there was a good clip and “collective “F” you to Macleans” by Tetsuro and his friends, after the “Too Asian article,” thier resistance in a song is here.

Needless to say when the interview didn’t pan out we were disappointed, but we continued to think about alternatives. Seeing his Youtube clips and thinking about doing some sort of on the street video, or interaction with people in Vancouver talking about NAAF. We wanted to have a grounded arts or cultural event to go to as well, so we started looking at other Asian community arts and cultural events that had to do with Asian voices being heard (through art, theater, and music).

I wanted to ask him what he thought about Asian Male stereotypes with regards to sexuality, and particularly about the assertion that protesting the so called  “feminization” of, or “sexual disfigurement”  of Asian male masculinities  (if he brought that concept/idea up) ultimately reproduced the devaluation of the feminine and thus reinforced heterosexual norms? (Nguyen and Tu, 2007). Because that was a “wow” moment for me, it was a really strange roundabout concept that made a lot of sense in a theoretical sense.

Re-thinking Asian Community Events, Dance and Film Festivals

Unfortunately, when the timing and interview didn’t work out with Tetsuro, we were back to the drawing board. We were all a bit disappointed, but were beginning to think we would like to engage in a more fluid way than a strict interview setting, so we shifted and began brainstorming again. We decided to stay with a focus on arts and culture, but we realized that with our time restraints something like an exhibit or performance (open to the public), would be a good bet. This is when we decided to look at public venues that were expressing resistance or culture through art, or permanent institutions.


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