Who does this asianprincess think she is?

GENNIFER M. HIRANO, asianprincess:

My fine art career as the "asianprincess character" began informally in college and has since developed and proliferated in multiple incarnations and many varied mediums ranging from photography, video, live performance to installation. I use whatever medium I feel is the most appropriate to communicate my ideas and politics on topics that mainly include but are not limited to racism, feminism, sexuality: sex work, sexism, sexual assault awareness, and homophobia. The work is presented within the context of the Asian-American female experience as well as through the experience and paradigms of all people who might experience her. The elements of my installation characters may include bloody one dollar bills, a pink Barbie karaoke boombox, a blonde Marilyn wig, a dancing gorilla sidekick or some combination of the aforementioned items. Pop culture and current events are extremely important to my work. I am just as interested, for example in character development in the Worldwide Wrestling Federation (W.W.F) as I am in the U.S invasion of Iraq, because to me the theatrics in both events are so similar it is uncanny. I appropriate commercial images and formats much in the same way that I appropriated the title of 'asianprincess' to speak about an exoticized fake porn star identity and a falsified royalty that ruled long ago and far away in some half Chinese, half Japanese land in Asia...somewhere. A humorous approach is also an important element in my work. Sometimes the joke is louder at times than others, and sometimes it isn't presented in a funny way at all but it is nevertheless an important part of the development process.

Like most emerging activists I started out angry and idealistic. I went to UC Berkeley, planned an Asian Women's arts conference and then decided to work as an exotic dancer as a self proclaimed "cultural anthropology" experiment of sorts. I had no intention of staying in the industry because I was sure that that my magic employer would be waiting at the gate for me ready to hand me a great paying job. I failed to realize that I was an art major and that things weren't going to be that easy.

My work is mainly made up of performance, images and writing. I am particularly interested in interactivity in regards to propaganda or marketing certain messages to isolated specific communities (Asian American, art world elite, strip club aficionado,) or more often pitch to all communities simultaneously and listen to their varied reactions.

Most of my work is sculpted on the computer and much of my studio time is spent in front of a computer (Somedays up to 10 hours!) I use Photoshop, Final Cut, Flash and web design programs to weave various methods that the asianprincess can reach out and touch her audience.

My work, asianprincessartifacts.com and I speak for myself, my experiences, my own politics and who I think fits under this identity that I created for myself. Other asianprincesses I have named most often do not identify themselves as an asianprincess. That's okay with me. Many of us have a derogatory association with the word. It certainly isn't one that I invented so coincidentally there are a lot of sites that come up when you search for just one asianprincess. There are a lot of associations to it depending on your community and your own experience. Does it mean rich spoiled Prada chic from Hong Kong? Does it mean Asia Carrera, pioneer hapa porn nerd? Tita Aida, the Filipina drag queen with the same platform shoes as me? Does one have to be genetically female to be an asianprincess? Does one have to be of Asian descent? I feel that asianprincess can mean all of these things depending on what context it is used in. (The original asianprincess name was actually a 'hello my name is' sticker given to my black butch dyke friend from her Asian queer boy friend at a meeting of some sort. She told me the story and I have adopted the name ever since 1998).

For me it has something to do with reclaiming my femme womanhood, reclaiming my sexuality and reclaiming the intersection between race and gender constructions and empowering ourselves (as righteous asianprincesses all over!) to be in control of our own specific images, our own minds and our sexuality and to proudly acknowledge that we are unique . It has to do with flipping the scripts which may include oppression from the 'male gaze' or the 'white gaze' or even the preachy, chiding choir known as your own ethnic or gender community. It is an ever evolving identity that has been with me for a long time, but may also not be with me forever.

It also has something to do with a reclaimed "girly"ness and the redefining notion of spoiling yourself like a princess. Our society has associated this girliness with weakness. asianprincess is sort of an exaggerated Asian girliness that is in no way weak. The negative conotation of being a spoiled princess who is ever needy and forever helpless is a pretty dominant one for many of us. So, I took it upon myself to start spoiling both my girl and my woman like crazy, in exaggerated creative ways to make statements or because it simply amused me to do so! The thing that is common about other asianprincesses that I admire and myself is that we definitely do more than the average princess and most of it is done by our own hands. So while I'm wearing pink bows in my hair, I'm also sweating in a wife beater loading the back of my trunk with heavy equipment for a show (because this princess also doubles as her own roadie).

Think you know of another potentional asianprincess candidate? Could it be YOU? Your mother??

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