This combined video interview and visual essay explores the video and film works of Asian American feminist filmmaker Valerie Soe through the concept of détournement, an aesthetics of appropriation, reuse, and remix articulated by Guy Debord and the Situationists.1 Following Debord's observation that “spectacle is not a collection of images” but rather “a social relationship between people that is mediated by images,” Soe's creative output over the past thirty years deepens and complicates our understanding of the Asian American community's experiences with racism and alienation.2 By recontextualizing popular film and television images, Soe hijacks and reroutes the spectacularization of gendered Asian bodies as mediatized “image-objects” in films like Picturing Oriental Girls: A (Re)Educational Videotape (1999), Cynsin: An American Princess (1991), and Snapshot: Six Months of the Korean American Male (2007). Soe's documentary works, including Mixed Blood (1992), The Chinese Gardens (2012), and The Oak Park Story (2010),...
Détourning Asia/America with Valerie Soe: https://vimeo.com/298057510/b8ac9472e1
Mila Zuo is an assistant professor in the department of Theatre and Film at the University of British Columbia. Her research interests include non-Western and Asian American cinemas, star studies, film philosophy, and critical feminist, race, and queer theory. She has published in Women and Performance: a journal of feminist theory, Celebrity Studies, Journal of Chinese Cinemas, and the volumes Exploiting East Asian Cinemas (Bloomsbury, 2018) and The Palgrave Handbook of Asian Cinema (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). Her current book project examines the affective world-making of contemporary Chinese women film stars. Zuo's short film Carnal Orient (2016) premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival. Her latest film, Kin, was awarded the 2019 Oregon Media Arts Fellowship.
Valerie Soe is a professor of Asian American studies at San Francisco State University. Since 1986 her experimental videos, installations, and documentaries have won dozens of awards, grants, and commissions, and have been exhibited worldwide at such venues as the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the New Museum, New York. She has published extensively in books and journals, including Countervisions: Asian American Film Criticism, Asian Cinema, and Amerasia Journal. Soe is the author of the blog beyondasiaphilia.com (recipient of a 2012 Arts Writers Grant from the Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation). Her latest film is Love Boat: Taiwan (2019).
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Mila Zuo, Valerie Soe; Détourning Asia/America with Valerie Soe: https://vimeo.com/298057510/b8ac9472e1. Feminist Media Histories 1 October 2019; 5 (4): 56–58. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2019.5.4.56
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