This is a past event.

One Way or Another 

When: Sept. 19-Dec. 23 2007

Being Asian American isn't what it used to be, the new museum show One Way or Another: Asian American Art Now seems to be saying. Asian-American artists born in the United States after 1970 or raised here from that decade forward take a different view of the world, and of themselves, than their older counterparts. Their work tends to be less about sober "identity" issues and more playful and politically satirical, as in the giant Shrimp walking down a business district street in Xavier Cha's 2004 video, part of his Human Advertisement Series. Indigo Som's photo images of forlorn Chinese restaurants in the Deep South have a similar self-deprecatory tone, as if to grab hold of the potentially embarrassing cultural detail and twist it until it produces a laugh.

Other artists in the brand-new exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum focus their energy outward. Chitra Ganesh's Secrets simultaneously evokes and pokes fun at Hindu deity illustrations with a tableau of fantastic images - goddesses reimagined as romantic heroines in a comic-book panel. The large-scale model of an ark by San Francisco artist Michael Arcega refers to Hurricane Katrina and global warming. Berkeley's Ala Ebtekar uses an idealized pair of athletic shoes to comment on the transition between traditional Iranian culture and the world of hip-hop. Glenn Kaino's Graft (salmon) presents a full-size salmon made of ... shark skin.

"One Way or Another," organized by New York's AsiaSocietyMuseum and curated by Melissa Chiu, Susette Min, and Karen Higa, is on view at BAM through December 23, with a full schedule of such ancillary events as performances, artists' talks, and a panel discussion. The ´70s New Wave identification seems a bit strained - the curators named the show after a song by Blondie - but we'll let that slide. To learn more, visit

— Kelly Vance


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