SCREEN-GRABS from films and An advertisement
Astria Suparak is an artist and curator based in Oakland, California. Her cross-disciplinary projects often address urgent political issues and have been widely acclaimed for their high level concepts made accessible through a popular culture lens. Her current research interests include linguistics, diasporas, food histories, and sci-fi.
Suparak’s creative and collaborative projects, often taking the form of publicly accessible tools, maps, and databases of subcultures and misunderstood histories, have been exhibited and performed at Artists Space (New York), ICA London, SFMOMA, Tensta Konsthall (Stockholm), Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, and The Warhol Museum, and published in LTTR and Graffiti Women: Street Art from Five Continents. Her writing has appeared in The Getty blog, Art21 Magazine, VICE Magazine’s Noisey, Boing Boing, The Exhibitionist, The Museum Is Not Enough, and Queer Threads: Crafting Identity and Community. She co-edited and co-produced the Sports issue of INCITE Journal of Experimental Media, The Yes Men Activity Book, and New Art/Science Affinities.
She has curated exhibitions, screenings, performances, and live music events for art institutions and festivals across ten countries, including The Liverpool Biennial, Museo Rufino Tamayo, MoMA PS1, La Cinémathèque québécoise, Eyebeam, The Kitchen, and Expo Chicago, as well as for unconventional spaces such as roller-skating rinks, ferry boats, sports bars, and rock clubs. Her curatorial practice has explored science, political and community activism, and feminisms and gender, among other topics.
Excerpt from “Asian futures, without Asians” (2020)
From an ongoing research project and illustrated lecture analyzing how white Western sci-fi filmmakers depict futures inflected by Asian culture but devoid of actual Asian people. With coronavirus fears manifesting in irrational anti-Asian racism and conspiracy theories, this selection of images highlights how an old, xenophobic trope has persisted over two centuries.
In futures depicted by white filmmakers, street vendors with hanging food are presented as weird, gross, and savage.
“Rat eating” is a pernicious and enduring urban legend assigned to Chinese immigrants to North America since at least the mid-1800s, broadened to now include other Asian ethnicities and immigrants. This trope is intended to paint Asian people as filthy, diseased, and uncivilized. Rather than, say, the rats themselves, a lack of access to health care and public services, or not wearing a face mask during the current pandemic, regardless of your race.
1) Screengrab of a street vendor selling deep fried rats in the Neo Seoul area of “Cloud Atlas” (2012).
2) Screengrab of hanging roasted animals in “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” (2017).
3) Screengrab of a white hero realizing the burger he is eating is made from rats in “Demolition Man” (1993).
4) Advertisement for Rough On Rats brand rat poison (c. 1900). This image is used on many novelty products for sale in 2020.
Diane Wong, Elizabeth Davis, Tamara Harkness, Chaeyeon Park, Sarah Piché.