Amoeblog

Xu DaRocha - Painter, Photographer, Chinese TV & Cinema Veteran... and Dumpling Lover

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 31, 2010 11:55am | Post a Comment


May is Asian Pacific American Heritage, an occasion I marked by seeking interviews with several Asian-American artists (like Roommate's Ken Lambert) and blogging about Asian neighborhoods and such… One interview I attempted to land was Chinese-American artist Xu Darocha, now giving a whole new meaning to the concept of “Asian time” by getting her responses to me in time for National Cat Fish Month… To be fair, she’s been occupied with more pressing business, working on her amazing artwork.

Eric Brightwell: Hello Xu, thanks for letting me profile you. Happy Asian American Heritage Month. Have you done anything in recognition or celebration?

Xu Darocha: Not yet. I will make myself some dumplings soon. Will that count?

EB: Not really, unless you weren’t going to otherwise make them… plus it’s a little late! When I mention your name, almost everyone asks, “Is that her real name?” Do you get that a lot?

XD: Most of the people I meet are usually more confused about how to read “Xu.” I was born and raised in China. Xu is pronounced "zoo." "DaRocha" is the last name I took from my ex-husband when I was married. So yes – it’s my real name.

EB: When did you get into art?

XD: The year after I graduated from high school. The serious academic studying in [my] Chinese high school was overwhelming and suffocating me. The future it was leading to was even more depressing and suffocating. So I promised myself I would try this “painting” thing as soon as I could. And I got into art school a year later, for fashion design.

EB: How many arts are you involved in? I know of pottery, photography and painting. Anything else, or is that all?

XD: I want to think of myself as an artist that just makes things as I go. Painting, photography and pottery are just different forms of creation. I hope I will have time to try more things. I am also a part time stylist and an occasional translator. I think putting my own words or thoughts into anything I work on is a form of creation.

EB: Your Folds series depicts the light, shadows and textures of fabric in an almost fetishistic way that reminds me of the art of Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Are you a fan of them? Can you talk a bit about your inspirations?

XD: Thanks. I like the word” fetishistic,” sounds really sexy. I like Ingres. In addition [to] the fact [that] I love his style and craft, what really got me was a story about him. When I read his biography years ago there was a story about when he was in his 80s, already famous and established, he would go check on his paintings at night after a long day of working and start to cry because it wouldn’t be as good as he wanted. There was something childish and sincere about that and it comforted me. One of the reasons I started the Folds series was because I missed painting a lot. I was doing photography for a few years prior to that, and some pottery stuff, but hadn't worked on any serious paintings for at least three or four years. Plus, I needed a good subject matter that would hold my attention for a long period of time.

At the same time I started to notice the fabrics. They’re often just background subjects and always seem to have this really random and casual look to them – but if you look closer, every wrinkle and crease is caused by something and in return causes something else to happen. The casualness is superficial to me. There is also a tension between all the elements: surface, causality and so on. It reminds me of the complexity of other things that seem to exist without reasons or any cause, much like our emotions. Because of this we are often drawn to the surface level of the story, and that is what I am trying to create here. I was also looking for a certain image quality – something somewhat intense, layers over layers of the painting, lots of color and detail, so I can just have a good solid reason to just paint, to OD on painting for a bit, because I hadn’t really painted for a while, and I missed it very much. So, for now, I will have my good dose of heavy oil painting. The next series will be very different.

EB: I look forward to seeing the next series! So, you worked on a show back in China. What show was it -- in case Amoeba has it or can get it on VCD or CVD?

XU: Yes, I was working as an art director’s assistant for a TV show called The Love Letters. After that I worked as a freelancer making props and murals for movies and TV shows in China.

 

(I I looked up The Love Letter and ?? but only found the Peter Chan comedy, a K-Drama, ???? , and the Shunji Iwai film,????? –all available on DVD at Amoeba, and yet none involving Xu’s contributions.)

EB: So what does your current work entail?

XD: Usually I go around looking for fabric without knowing what I am looking for. Most of the time I don’t know what will catch my eye. Then I usually spend a long time playing with them, folding them, wrinkling them, taking pictures of them, leaving them alone for a while, printing the plans out and trying to forget about them, before starting the process all over again. Sometimes it takes days or weeks to finalize a plan, and lots of those plans never become finalized into an actual painting. Or I will tell myself, “I am going to make a light, happy painting this time or a painting that reminds me of a certain person or event.” Then I go around looking for a fabric that somehow echoes that voice inside of me and I go from there. I did Fin this way. I knew I wanted something dark, fragile and lively. 

EB: Do you listen to music when you paint?

XD: Absolutely.

EB: Did you ever get a record player?

XD: Yes, I did.

EB: Good. Finally, why, when you were told to “Bring Your Own Sauce” to fellow Asian-American artist Cindi Kusuda’s pasta party, did you think “sauce” meant “booze”?

XD: I think that was you.

Continue reading...

Asian-American Cinema Part IX - the 2000s

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 27, 2009 04:00pm | Post a Comment
The ninth of a nine part series on Asian-Americans in front of and behind the camera

INTRODUCTION TO ASIAN-AMERICAN CINEMA


The first efforts to combat negative racial stereotypes of Asians and Asian-Americans in film began in the silent era, when a few empowered figures attempted to create an alternative Asian-American Silent Cinema. After their efforts faltered, Hollywood provided most cinematic images of Asians in the '30s, 40s, 50s, and '60s. With the birth of Asian-American theater, Asian-American cinema was revived in the 1970s and began to take off as a viable independent cinema in the 1980s. By the '90s, the scope of Asian-American Cinema broadened considerably, a trend that continued in the 2000s.

APAMERICA IN THE 2000s
In the 2000s, Asians became the fastest growing racial minority in the county. As of 2006, there were over thirteen million Americans of Asian descent (not counting Native people). Of the top ten languages spoken in American homes (English, Spanish, Chinese, French, German, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Korean, Italian and Russian), four are Asian.


         Yunjin Kim                    Daniel Dae Kim               Masi Oka                     Bobby Lee                    B.D. Wong

APA TV IN THE 2000S

Despite the conspicous presence of Asians in America, in film and on TV Asian-American are still nearly invisible, aside from roles as doctors on ER, Grey’s Anatomy and House, or objects of ridicule (e.g. William Hung and Renaldo Lopez). Yunjin Kim, Daniel Dae Kim and Masi Oka, some of the few Asian-Americans on TV, all play foreigners. Bobby Lee of Mad TV and B. D. Wong on Law & Order: SVU are two of the few Asian-American male actors whose roles challenge stereotypes both directly and indirectly. My Life... Disoriented and A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila became only the fourth and fifth TV series with Asian Americans in starring roles.

APA THEATER IN THE 2000s

In the 2000s, APA theatre continued to quickly grow with new groups like Amherst's New WORLD Theater; The Bay Area's Krea; Chicago's DueEast Theatre Company, Rasaka Theater Company, Silk Road Theatre Project and YAWP; Dallas's Diwa Theater Company; Hawaii's Kumu Kahua TheatreHouston's Shunya Theater; Los Angeles' Chinatown 90210 and Thumping Claw One Act Series; New York's Cuchipinoy Productions, Desipina & Company, Disha TheatreeyeBLINK Fluid Motion Theater, Mellow Yellow Theatre Company and SALAAM Theatre; San Diego's Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company; San Francisco's Locus Arts and Youth for Asian Theatre; Seattle's Pratidhwani Drama Wing, Sex in Seattle;SoCal's Here and Now Theatre Company;Tampa's Asian Pacific American Scene and Washington DC's Awaaz Theatre all joining the fray during the decade. New playwrights included A. Rey Pamatmat, Carla Ching, Edward Bok Lee, J.P. Chan, Lloyd Suh, Michael Golacmo and Qui Nguyen.

APA COMICS IN THE 2000s

In the 2000s, there were finally recognized APA comics whose last names weren't "Cho." Aziz Ansari, Dat Phan, Bobby Lee, Dr. Ken, Steve Byrne, Susan Chuang, Kevin Shea, Joey Guila, Soonpoong Choi, Augustine Hong and Nakgyun Im may not be household names but have all received decent exposure. New comedy ensembles like Chicago's Taco Flavored Eggrolls and Los Angeles' Room to Improv also sprang up during the decade.

APA COMEDY DVDS



I'm the One That I Want
(2000), Notorious C.H.O. (2002), Revolution (2003), Assassin (2005), The Kims of Comedy, What's That Clickin' Noise (both 2006), Comedy Zen (2007), Happy Hour (2008)

APA HOLLYWOOD IN THE 2000s

2002's Better Luck Tomorrow ushered in a new era for Asian American filmmakers and actors after it became a surprise independent success. In Hollywood, John Cho and Kal Penn, in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, were quietly revolutionary by being the first two Asian-American male leads to co-star in a Hollywood film in forever. For the most part, however, Hollywood films like Memoirs of a Geisha, Mistress of Spices, Monsoon Wedding, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Wendy Wu - Homecoming Warrior continued to offer  familiar depictions. On the other hand,  for the first time, large numbers of APA films were made. A large percentage moved beyond the traditional focus on acculturation to explore a much greater variety of subject matter suggesting that Asian-American Cinema is now a healthy, viable movement if still a bit under the radar.

APA ACTORS WHOSE CAREERS BEGAN IN THE '00s

   
                Aaron Takahashi                                Aaron Yoo                                                Aiko Tanaka 

  
          Alexander Agate                              Alexis Chang                                               An Nguyen     

  Angel Desai  
                        Angel Desai                                                  Angie Lieuw                                     Brenda Song

  
                        Camille Mana                                        Cat Ly                                                     Chil Kong                          

  
               Christina Stacey                                    Christopher Dinh                               Damien Nguyen  

   
                        David Huynh                                             David J. Lee                                  David Shih

 

                         Di Quon                                                    Dileep Rao                                             Eddie Shin     

 

                              Elizabeth Ho                                         Emily Ryan                                                Esther Chae            

  

                     Ewan Chung                                              Feodor Chin                                      Ganita Koonopakarn  

 
Hahn Cho
                       Grace Park                                              Hanh Cho                                               Hettienne Park

    
 
                  Hira Ambrosino                                             James Kyson Lee                                   Jane Kim       

  

                        Janet Linn                                               Jeff Lam                                              Jennifer Wu              

 

                        Joy Osmanski                                           Julia Ling                                              Justin Chon               

   
                   Karin Anna Cheung                                          Kathy Uyen                                              Kenzo Lee                                      
 

               Kevin Leung                                                Kylie Kim                                                       Lanny Joon   
                      
 
 

                 Leonardo Nam                                                      Linda Park                                           Lynn Chen  

 

         Michael David Cheng                                           Migina Tsai                                                 Natasha Yi   
 
 

                     Richard Chiu                                     Samantha Futerman                                     Samson Fu       
 
 
 
                      Shelley Conn                                 Shin Koyamada                                                 Siu Ta           

 
Steph Song 
                    Smith Cho                                                   Steph Song                                                Tania Gunadi   

  

                      Tim Chiou                                       Tim Kang                                                          Tina Duong  


  
  Wayne Chang 
                       Valerie Tian                                      Wayne Chang                                                 Yoi Tanabe

Not pictured: Austin Lee, Christy Qin, Darwood Chung, Esther Song, Grace Fatkin, Hoon Lee, Jim Chu, Jimmy Lin, Kerry Wong, Mao Zhao, Ngoc Lam, Oliver Oguma, Ruth Zhang and Shawn Huang


APA RELATED FILM IN THE '00s

  
Becoming an Actress in New York (2000), Being Hmong Means Being Free (2000)

 
Conscience and the Constitution (2000), Constructions (2000), 

 
Crossover (2000), Daughters of the Cloth (2000)

  
Days of Waiting (2000), Desi -  South Asians in New York (2000), Drift (2000)

   
First Person Plural (2000), Of Civil Wrongs and Rights (2000), Saanjh - As Night Falls (2000)

 

Sea in the Blood (2000), Snow Falling on Cedars (2000) 

Asian-American Cinema Part VIII - the 1990s

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 26, 2009 11:55am | Post a Comment
The eighth of a nine part series on Asian-Americans in front of and behind the camera


INTRO TO ASIAN-AMERICAN CINEMA

In the silent film era, a few Asian-Americans braved decidedly limited opportunities and even attempted to create a cinematic outlet for their voices. By the dawn of the sound era, Asian-American cinema disappeared and Hollywood once again controlled depictions and roles. In the post-war era, roles for Asian-American actors grew in number, if not diversity. As a result, Asian-American theater arose to fill the void, ultimately leading to the rebirth of an authentic Asian-American Cinema that grew slowly over the next two decades before expanding rapidly in the '90s and continuing in the 2000s.

APA DEMOGRAPHIC MILESTONES IN THE '90s

The 1990s were a time of tremendous growth in the Asian-American population, resulting in a notable demographic milestone when Monterey Park became the first Asian-American majority city on the US mainland. It was soon followed by several others, including Cerritos, Cupertino, Daly City, Milpitas and Rowland Heights in California as well as Millbourne in Pennsylvania.

       
           Chay Yew                      Diana Son                     Han Ong                      Ralph Pena                     Sung Rno
  
APA THEATER IN THE '90s

With Hollywood depictions of Asian-Americans surpsingly minimal and unsophisticated, not surprsingly APA theater exploded to exploit the ignored audience. Prominent new APA playwrights included Chay Yew, Diana Son, Euijoon Kim, Han Ong, Ji Hyun Lee, Mrinalini Kamath, Ralph Peña and Sung Rno. By the decade's close there were about forty APA theater companies. APA companies founded in the '90s included The Bay Area's NaatakChicago's Pintig Cultural Group; Nevada City's Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra; Los Angeles' 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors, Lodestone Theatre Ensemble, Propergander Theatre and TeAda Productions; Minneappolis's Mu Performing Arts; New York's In Mixed CompanyMa-Yi Theater Company Second GenerationNational Asian American Theatre Company, PEELING,  The Slant Performance Group and Yangtze Repertory Theatre of America; Philadelphia's Asian Arts Initiative; Sacramento's InterACTSinag-tala Filipino Theater and Performing Arts Association; San Diego's Asian American Repertory Theatre; San Francisco's Bindlestiff Studio; San Jose's Contemporary Asian Theater Scene; Seattle's Aono Jikken Ensemble, Isangmahal Arts Kollective and Pork Filled Players.

APA TV IN THE '90s

On TV, Margaret Cho's All-American Girl became only the third TV series in American history with a predominantly Asian cast.

   
           Margaret Cho                                Henry Cho                               Stir-Fridays                                         OPM

APA COMEDY IN THE '90S
In the '90s, the concept of a mainstream APA comic was still novel, with Henry Cho and Margaret Cho undoubtedly the most visible. Meanwhile, new APA (and largely APA) groups like Chicago's Stir-Friday Night and Los Angeles' OPM nurture APA stand-up, sketch and improv comedy.

APA CINEMA AND ASIAN HOLLYWOOD IN THE '90s

Despite the revival of Asian-American Cinema in the 1980s, it wasn’t until the 1990s that it truly took off, part of the larger boom in independent film. Some films, like Joy Luck Club, enjoyed a great deal of crossover success with non-Asian audiences. In Hollywood, Rush Hour became one of the first mainstream films to star no white actors in decades. Perhaps an unintended consequence is that whilst Jackie Chan's performance opened doors for Hong Kong compatriots like Jet Li, Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh and others in Hollywood, it simultaneously closed doors for Asian-Americans and subconsciously reinforced notions about Asians as foreign martial artists from the exotic east.

APA ACTORS WHOSE CAREERS BEGAN IN THE '90s

   
      Bernadette Balagtas                    Charles Chun                           Christina Ma                               Cici Lau

   
            Cindy Cheung                         Colin Foo                         Constance Wu                            Corrine Hong Wu

     
              Derek Basco                              Elaine Kao                        Elizabeth Tsing                        Eugenia Yuan 

   
             Fann Wong                         Garrett Wang                                    Garz Chan                          Greg Watanabe

    
              Irene Ng                           Jade Wu                             James Sie                                 Jeanne Chinn 

   
        Jen Sung Outerbridge                      Jennifer Tung                         John Cho                         Joy Bisco   

  
                Kal Penn                            Kathy Shao-Lin Lee                Keiko Agena                           Keisuke Hoashi    

.   
          Ken Leung                            Kenneth Choi                             Kristy Wu                             Lee Wong

   
              Lela Lee                    Louis Ozawa Changchien               Lucy Liu                            Luoyong Wang

    
     Michelle Krusiec                Mina Shum                         Parry Shen                                     Peggy Ahn 

  
               Phil Young                         Ray Chang                                  Reggie Lee                        Richard Chang  

 
                  Rick Tae                              Robert Wu                                  Roger Fan                                Roger Yuan 

 
                  Sara Tanaka                      Sarita Choudhury                       Sharon Omi                           Shazia

Susan Chuang 
           Sung Kang                         Susan Chuang                                  Suzy Nakamura                     Terry Chen     

  
                  Vivian Bang                                           Will Yun Lee                                                   Yi Ding 

Not pictured: Ben Wang, Bobby Lee, Brady Tsurutani, Dan Koji, Daniel Dae Kim, Danton Dew, Diana C. Weng, Donald Fong, Emmy Yu, Goh Misawa, Gregory Hatanaka, Howard Fong, Jenny Woo, Jina Oh, Johnny Mah, Lenny Imamura, Margaret Cho, Mary Chen, Mia Suh, Michael Li, Mai Vu, Nathanel Geng, Radmar Agana Jao, Shannon Dang, Susan Fukada and Yoshimi Imai
APA CINEMA AND ASIAN HOLLYWOOD IN THE '90s

  Banana Split (1990), Dreaming Filipinos (1990), I'm British But. . .

  
The Story of Vinh (1990). Animal Appetites (1991),  Come See the Paradise (1991), 

  
En Ryo Identity (1991), Issei Wahine (1991)

    

Rebuilding the Temple - Cambodians in America (1991), Toxic Sunset (1991), Troubled Paradise (1991),

   

 
Fated to be Queer (1992), 
The Kiss (1992),

   

  Memories from the Department of Amnesia (1992), Mississippi Masala (1992), Mixed Blood (1992),