Unnamable: The Ends of Asian American Art
Min, Susette (Author)
Redraws the contours of Asian American art, attempting to free it from a categorization that stifles more than it reveals. Charting its historical conditions and the expansive contexts of its emergence, Susette Min challenges the notion of Asian American art as a site of reconciliation for marginalized artists to enter into the canon or mainstream art scene. Pressing critically on the politics of visibility and recognition and how this categorization reduces artworks by Asian American artists within narrow parameters of interpretation, Unnamable reconceives Asian American art not as a subset of objects, but as a discursive medium that sets up the conditions for a politics to occur. By approaching Asian American art in this way, Min refigures the way we see Asian American art as an oppositional practice, less in terms of its aspirations to be seen--its greater visibility--and more in terms of how it models a different way of seeing and encountering the world. Uniquely presented, the chapters are organized thematically as mini-exhibitions, and offer readings of select works by contemporary artists including Tehching Hsieh, Byron Kim, Simon Leung, Mary Lum, and Nikki S. Lee. Inspired above all by their art practice, Min argues for an alternative approach to exhibition making and methods of reading that conceives of these works not as "exemplary"instances of Asian American art, but as engaged in an aesthetic practice that remains open-ended, challenging the assumptions that racialize artists within an "Asian American" context . Ultimately, Unnamable insists that in order to reassess Asian American art and beyond its place in art history, we may need to let go not only of established viewing and curatorial practices, but potentially even the category of Asian American art itself as we know it.