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The Decolonized Eye

The Decolonized Eye: Filipino American Art and Performance

Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    The Decolonized Eye
    Book Description:

    From the late 1980s to the present, artists of Filipino descent in the United States have produced a challenging and creative movement. In The Decolonized Eye, Sarita Echavez See shows how these artists have engaged with the complex aftermath of U.S. colonialism in the Philippines. By analyzing art, performance, and visual culture, The Decolonized Eye illuminates the unexpected consequences of America’s amnesia over its imperial history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7085-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction Foreign in a Domestic Sense
    (pp. xi-xxxiv)

    It is a beautiful, baffling image. Blond wigs form the contours of the floor plan of a basilica in Paul Pfeiffer’sLeviathan,a 1998 print that exemplifies the digital and installation artist’s signature use of strangely modified images of the body (see Plate 6 ). Yet the wigs disrupt the very architecture they want to approximate. They lavishly spill out of the Christian frame they themselves construct, saturating and filling the entire print. All too (un)fittingly, the Christian basilica is formed by and overlaid onto iconic American blondness, signifying what might be called the bicoloniality of the Philippines.¹Three hundred...

  5. I. Staging the Sublime

    • 1 An Open Wound AngelShaw ManuelOcampo
      (pp. 3-38)

      Images of bodily injury suffuse contemporary Filipino/American art and cultural production, graphic depictions often attended by hurtful humor and a rhetoric of pain.¹ Consider the work of artist Manuel Ocampo and videomaker Angel Velasco Shaw. Ocampo’s oil and acrylic paintings trade on a gorgeous, grotesque corporeality—torn bellies, spilling hearts, and headless, defecating corpses. In the experimental videoNailed,Shaw documents the self-inflicted crucifixion of Lucy Reyes, a faith healer in the Philippines who for more than twenty years annually donned a buttercup yellow wig and crown of thorns before having her hands and feet partially nailed to a cross....

    • 2 A Queer Horizon Paul Pfeiffer’s Disintegrating Figure Studies
      (pp. 39-68)

      Excessive embodiment, I have argued thus far, is a feature of Filipino America’s cultural moment. The borders of Manuel Ocampo’s canvas and Angel Shaw’s screen just barely contain the somatic violence and drama of colonial melancholia; the human body is filled by simply too much presence. In contrast, Paul Pfeiffer’s digital and installation art features the erosion of the body and the threatening expansiveness of space. Undeniably dazzling, if deeply unsettling, the heaven and wavering horizon of Pfeiffer’s twenty-minute video loopMorning after the Delugereveal no trace of human presence (see Plates 2 and 3 ). An occasional insect,...

  6. II. Pilipinos Are Punny, Freud Is Filipino

    • 3 Why Filipinos Make Pun(s) of One Another The Sikolohiya/Psychology of Rex Navarrete’s Stand-up Comedy
      (pp. 71-104)

      Corny jokes, endless punning, and playful teasing make up the stuff of Filipino American everyday life. Polemical, aggressive, and frivolous forms of wordplay are evidence of a culture that is “alive and vibrant because of a disposition toward lighthearted bantering and joking relationships” (Enriquez, “Decolonizing the Filipino Psyche” 13). This chapter tracks the routes of Filipino American lingual decolonization by paying attention to the ephemeral phenomena of everydaybiro(jokes) before moving to an analysis of the recorded performances of professional stand-up comic Rex Navarrete. Navarrete’s stand-up comedy uses bilingual‚ bicultural punning structures (a variant of what Sigmund Freud calls...

    • 4 “He will not always say what you would have him say” Loss and Aural (Be)Longing in Nicky Paraiso’s House/Boy
      (pp. 105-126)

      If what vicente rafael has called “white love” structures the colonial and neocolonial relationship between the Philippines and the United States, this chapter traces the alternative, if circuitous, possibilities of queer loss and love proposed by Nicky Paraiso’s playHouse/Boy.A gay second-generation Filipino American writer and performer, Paraiso has developed a signature combination of cabaret and performance art over the three decades or so in which he has been involved in New York City’s downtown theater scene.¹House/Boyis the last in Paraiso’s trilogy of full-length solo autobiographical plays about home and identity:Asian Boys(1994),Houses and Jewels...

  7. Conclusion Reanne Estrada, Identity, and the Politics of Abstraction
    (pp. 127-146)

    Like other racialized bodies in the United States, contemporary Filipino American artists have been subjected to what might be called a regimen of identity. They are vulnerable on the one hand to the violence of hypervisible representation, such as the recycling of stereotypes. They are vulnerable on the other hand to the violence of invisibility in the United States wrought by imperial amnesia about the colonization of the Philippines and about the racialized oppression of Filipino Americans. The visual artists featured in this book respond to this predicament of hypervisibility and invisibility in two ways: They emphasize either the presence...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 147-176)
  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 177-188)
  10. Index
    (pp. 189-210)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 211-212)
  12. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)