Wow, the studio open tour was a whirlwind and certainly a blast! It kicked Trina and I into high gear and it was well worth the fruits of our 2-3 months of intense labor. The media below doesn’t quite capture the experience, but ICYMI, I think these will give you a good idea of the second successful collaboration between me and Trina. Let’s call it high concept no brow art that’s meant for museums more than living rooms (and apparently haunted houses??? #killinit).
Here’s a video of the art show Trina and I put on! The VHS videos playing don’t show up well because of the tracking on the “dead media,” as coined by Trina. Um, and yeah I did make this video for my aunt and my mum lol originally I thought my mum wasn’t going to make it and then she did #anxiety
Here’s the interview we did for INSIGHT on NPR/Capital Public Radio! You bet that’s going on our CVs.
Our shared Instagram account @theaznroom
Trina’s going to take additional photos later this week of some of our newer works.
Thankful for getting pulled into this opportunity to make art with my bff/partner/#homegirl Trina in the Verge Center for the Arts’ Studio Open Tours in Sacramento.
Here’s descriptions Trina/I wrote:
THE AZN ROOM SEPTEMBER 15-16, 2018
A song came out in the early 2000’s, a take on the 2pac song, “Changes”, called “Got Rice” or often referred to as the “AZN Pride” song. The lyrics beg the question: Got rice, bitch? Got rice? Got food, got soup, got spice?
Hungry to cling to an identity in our teenage years, a lot of 1st and 2nd generation Asian Americans held this song in high regard as our representation of our youth. We can all agree the song is very problematic, and upon revisiting it at a much later age, it reminds us not only of our formative years, but of a culture and experience we Asian Americans all share.
As adults, away from our families and places of comfort, the white workspaces and communities offer isolation in the form of “I practically grew up [insert Asian community]” and “I’ve had [insert ethnic food] once”. With a cringed and baffled smile, we navigate through adulthood, attempting any strategy to rail against the stereotypes the AZN Pride song had to offer. And in secret, amongst each other, at dinner and on karaoke nights, in the markets of Asia Town USA, and every time we ask our white friends to take their shoes off, we admit to ourselves the song also sings about the things that make us and our households special.
How do we connect to a community we feel so far away from? What brings us comfort and how do we unwind after a long hard day of “hey, do you think this is racist?”
Every day we relinquish a part of ourselves to fit in to this country, and this is the place where our Asian American identities lie. Not quite Asian, not quite American, but a melding confusion of guilt, shame, and pride. Guilt for not knowing where we come from, shame of where we come from, pride for what we came from.
This is not yours, this is ours.
Got rice, bitch? Got rice?
Anything you can show that is nice?
Got cash, got moves, got thoughts like us?
Fuck no, hell you white, you’ll never be like us.
Trina Fernandez, 2018, To Mom, Lovee
The Japanese may have created the art of Karaoke, but it’s Filipinos that are the true purveyors of the sport. The popular activity is prevalent in Filipino households via portable Karaoke machines, in bars and eateries, and now widely available on YouTube. Not unlike movies, Karaoke offers us the words that we’ve failed to say, and the ability to be who we want for four minutes and sixteen seconds -a form of entertainment to relieve stress and the permission we need to dream.
My relationship with my family is amicable, we don’t know much about each other, maybe not because we choose to, but because we won’t allow ourselves to be close. My mother, the one I identify with most, from a young age has always shared her interest in popular music and movies. At 17, a former cheerleader, ¼ Spanish-⅛ Chinese, someone Leif Garrett once described as “Groovy”, got pregnant by a farm boy, and traded whatever future she had to move from the Philippines to the United States with her daughter and husbands family.
That is as much about my mother as she’ll ever let me know. Through the music and movies she forced me to watch and listen to these items she identified with, and years later, I am only now trying to piece these feelings together in efforts to understand her before she’s gone.
Before you walk uncomfortably through a hundred lanterns dedicated to God Girl, learn more about this azn God… Girl.
Cat Hellxia, 2018, Path to Praise
She is all-knowing, all-powerful, and pretty apathetic about her own agency. Her Other like a brother, Skeleton Space Man, is a trickster goofball. And their plaything is Sleep Walker – he passed away in comatose and exists to serve God Girl and Skeleton Space Man by possessing and interfering with mortal lives.
You may be asking, “What does it all mean?” Just have faith and meaning will come to you, probably. Or you can just make it up, whatever. But whatever your conclusions, be sure to take your beliefs too seriously, practice devotion to your fear of the unknown, and thank God Girl for any achievements in your life. God Girl deserves all praise. We would be nothing without Her. Thank GOD GIRL. A man!
CRAFT STATION by Hellxia: Religious Altaration
Now that you have been touched by the spirit and disembodied body of God Girl, you may offer her your prayers in whatever form you please. We have included here some tiles, Sharpie markers, rubbing alcohol, sponges, Q-Tips, and dust blasters for you to experiment with. Offer God Girl your creativity or embarrassing lack thereof. No one is judging you but God Girl. In the end, God Girl is always watching, is always knowing, and is always waiting.
If you have any dumb questions, Reverend Cat Hellxia is available to hear out your concerns and preach at you.
Trina Fernandez and Cat Hellxia, 2018, the aZn room
Mixed media on shitty TV
Asians in our room free to do what we want, judgement free zone, MOM AND DAD.
Trina Fernandez, 2018, Manananggal
The manananggal (from the word tanggal, meaning to remove or separate) is a creature from Filipino folklore often depicted as a severed torso of a vampire like woman. In the evening she sprouts giant wings and separates herself from her lower half, and while dragging her intestines through the sky, she hunts for men and pregnant women, hungry for the hearts of unborn children.
This manananggal, is a literal separation between my Filipino and American identity. Never feeling like I belonged to either, and finding it impossible to be both, she represents the push and pull of where my family came from and who I want to be.
All Filipinos are connected through blood and faith, and this manananggal is both our complicated past and an unknown future.
Trina Fernandez, 2018, Back Home
Thousands of overseas Filipinos send balikbayan boxes (literal translation being “repatriate box”) to their family in the Philippines every year. Filled to the brim with everyday items like….Kleenex, Lipton Tea, Oreos, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Band-Aids, etc… everyday things to show our family back home that we care and miss them, and to show our desire to one day spend our lives together again.
“Have you been back home?” is a question I’m asked frequently, I think, because to a lot of Filipinos don’t consider America home. How can I share my life with a place I know nothing about? A place seen as poverty stricken and relaxed, third world and beautiful, dangerous and familial. To answer the question, no I’ve never been “back home”, but there is a constant lump in my throat filled with the words I wish to speak in a language I barely know, a longing for the flavors I can’t seem to cultivate, and a want for the loving embrace of faces like mine welcoming home. So where are these feelings kept, but in these boxes waiting in between the every day.