2001 – 2002

11th AAAC Annual: Mitochondria Emancipation

September 21 – November 3, 2001

“Mitochondria emancipation” draws a parallel between cell evolution and our understanding of racial tensions in the U.S. It refers to the co-evolution of human cells and their mitochondria, which were once free-floating bacterium-like cells that “teamed up” with our early primordial cells. In this context, the title refers to how society sometimes imposes artificially constructed power relationships between peoples. It also refers to the level at which tensions have been integrated and the level at which solutions need to be found. The artists in this exhibition have acquired various cultural and historical heritages from their personal experience and encountered many confrontational issues about their contemporary life. A collaboration with The Korea Society. Learn more: flyer, press release.

Participating artists:

17 Squares: Long Nguyen at Mid-Career

November 16, 2001 – January 4, 2002

In the wake of September 11, 2001, Long Nguyen’s paintings of the Vietnam War echo the commonality of the two events: the victimization of humanness caught up in ideological conflicts. The memories of war still smolder intensely in Long Nguyen’s paintings, no less fiercely than did the fires of the collapsed World Trade Center towers. Essay by Koan-Jeff Baysa. Learn more: flyer, press release, artist profile.

Selection Panelists:
Participating artists:

Chinese New Year Woodblock Prints

January – March 2002

The exhibition’s exquisite traditional prints, with many coming from Professor Liu Qian as well as AAAC’s Folk Art Collection, featured several of the most well-known deities among the hundreds popular in China. The catalogue “Door Gods and Other Household Deities” (1984) accompanied the exhibition. Loaned from the Permanent Folk Art Collection. Held in Birmingham Museum, Alabama.

Reappearing Exit IV: Performance Art of Zheng Lianjie

March 15 – April 28, 2002

Zheng Lianjie is a New York-based artist originally from Beijing who has been doing performance art since the late 1980's. His most well-known work internationally, "BINDING THE LOST SOULS: Huge Explosion," done in 1993, was a 17-day performance and installation piece that involved wrapping ten thousand bricks along the Si Ma Tai section of the Great Wall with red cloth ribbons. Zheng and his compatriots recruited from the local rural villagers of Dongpo their assistance in completing this grueling performance. The lives of the villagers, both young and old, bring to contemporary art another dimension, a more wholesome responsibility for a future, and an important critique of international urban culture.

Zheng Lianjie emerged from China’s Cultural Revolution a self-taught artist. He is an artist who seeks an enlarged humanity, a radiant soul. In his own words, Zheng Lianjie states: "Enthusiasm and appreciation for the ordinary has given me the chance to examine my own heart…The life and field of vision of avant garde art must pay attention to a broader field and social space. The freedom of an artist to create is no different from the freedom of peasants to own their land.”

Curated by Robert Lee. Panel discussion: Gao Minglu, Prof. at SUNY Buffalo; Qian Zhijian, Post-doctoral Candidate at the Institute of Fine Arts; Bing Yi, independent curator; Robert Lee; Zheng Lianjie.

Learn more: flyer, artist statement.

Participating artist:

The AAAC Story

May 23 – July 13, 2002

A conference co-sponsored by AAAC & Asian/ Pacific/ American Studies Program & Institute at New York University. A critical review of the Arts Centre's 27 years of work which will be mounted throughout the gallery. In an extensive exhibition of selected documents, past programs, dance performances, video tapes, photographs, posters, folk art, slide show, and 120 art works from the Permanent Collection of the Arts Centre, an examination of Asian American Art and the social and political eras in which it thrived, from 1945 onward, will be on display. The essay of an independent writer Yo Park, written but only published recently, is available here. Learn more: flyer, press release, blog.

Artists from the Permanent Collection:

The Players: Asian American Art

A conference co-sponsored by AAAC & Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program & Institute at New York University was held at New York University Main Building, 100 Washington Sq. East. Learn more: flyer, press release.

June 1, 2002

Looking at America: The Asian American Presence. After World War II in the United States of 1945, many artists were challenged by the prospects of the post war years, including artists of Asian background. With them began the quest for a contemporary art, an art touched by a complexion all its own Asian American Art raises a multitude of questions: the role of past traditions and sensibilities, the issue of quality vs. ethnicity, and the perspective of critical terms like multiculturalism. Such questions mark this stage. The significance of Asian American Art and its history is open to discovery.

Panel One


Panel Two

Recent views on Asian America. Points of departure in shaping a critical perspective..


Panel Three

The future of ‘young' artists talking about their vision, the internet, and the new globalism, with two new curators.


June 22, 2002

Panel One

A Role for the Arts in Community Development. A spirit of community has shaped many years of Asian Americans’ cultural activities. Will the arts continue to help shape the development of the Asian American community? Will the visible differences of an Asian ethnicity continue to be accepted long-term in America? In the age of virtual technologies, what will the role be for local cultural groups?


Panel Two

Funding Art: A Community’s Infrastructure.The health and vitality of the people’s spirit are reflected and sustained by the Arts. That’s why in 1965 the National Endowment for the Arts was founded. However, in 1995, Expansion Arts, the part of the Endowment that supported diverse communities, was eliminated. What has been the effect on Asian American communities? What actions on other levels of government, have been taken? What is the future of arts funding for diverse communities?


Selected documents in the document room from 1969 with the beginnings of the Asian American Movement up through to the present, touching upon many key moments, organizations, people, events, and ideas. A treasure of over forty rare video tapes amplifies the documents. For example: the choreography of Eleanor Yung, a 1983 Asian American Artist Panel talk, a 1988 installation by Epoxy, a 1991 interview of four Chinese artists by Alexandra Monroe, Nuo Mask Ritual Theatre in Jiangxi 1992, Eunjin Oh speaking at TAAC (The Assoc. of American Cultures) in 1994 in St. Louis, a 1996 CC Wang interview, a 1997 interview with VC Igarta, The NEA Tapes by Paul Lamarre 2000, Freud: In Search of Chinese Matter and Mind” 2001 By Zuni Icosahedron. These and other artifacts assembled form a context for the art works presented.

Much of the work in selecting and organizing the documents was done with the assistance of an outside research consultant, Young M. Park, who has contributed a critical essay entitled, “The Asian American Arts Centre: Its History of Reintegration”, 26 pages, dated June 2002.