Behold the Asian: Video Works by James T. Hong

To say that San Francisco–based artist James T. Hong is a provocateur is to reduce him to a single defiant gesture. His moving image works are a sump-hole of chilling irony in which neo-fascist pronouncements vie for primacy with proto-liberal anxieties. “I am not a fanatic or a preacher,” the then budding but brash filmmaker said in 1998, “I am an Asian.” Witness The Coldest War, in which an address to the United Nations by China's premier is translated to explain the “Million Flowers Movement,” an alleged government program to subjugate Caucasians through intermarriage; or Total Mobilization, in which Third World migration is depicted as ants swarming a candied map of the United States. One of Hong's newest works, 731: Two Versions of Hell, dredges up a Japanese World War II lab used to test biological weapons, then banishes easy condemnation in the larger context of globalizing warfare. Still a disturbing quasi-essay, Hong's inaugural Behold the Asian theorizes an evolved pan-Asian ascending to supremacy. “I am already one quarter of the earth. I have won.” Behold the anxiety of one world.

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