‘Giant Robot Biennale 4’ to showcase Asian pop culture at the Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles)

Many people complain about something lacking from their lives, but few actually do anything about it. Eric Nakamura is different. He has not only filled that gap, he has created a new movement.

Nakamura is the creator of Giant Robot, now a store with a sister gallery in Los Angeles, which spurred an ever-growing interest in Asian and Asian American pop culture. He is also the curator of the exhibit, “Giant Robot Biennale 4,” set to open Oct. 11 at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. Giant Robot began as a ‘zine, covering Nakamura’s interests, such as live action robot shows, kung fu films, imported toys and international foods.

I grew up with a mix of both cultures (American and Asian) and I didn’t see a publication out there that documented that kind of hybrid,” Nakamura said.

After being deluged by readers asking if they could visit the Giant Robot office to see the products advertised in the ‘zine, Nakamura decided to open a store. Then he took his hybrid idea a step further by also using the space to exhibit art.

Today, some 21 years and a plethora of copycat store/galleries later, Nakamura still shrugs the notion of success. However, he credits Giant Robot’s longevity to his devotion to fairness and honesty.

The culture of Giant Robot is an artist family experience, which is different. We do things contrary to how a gallery would do things,” Nakamura said.

The exhibit, which runs through Jan. 24, is the fourth time Giant Robot and JANM have united for an art exhibit.

Asian and Asian American pop art has exploded in popularity,” said JANM president and CEO Greg Kimura. “Giant Robot really is the premiere example of that. It’s bringing some of these known and some of these rising artists to the public consciousness and, because of that, JANM is becoming known as a place where folks can come to discover very interesting and frequently provocative contemporary art.

Nakamura has divided “Giant Robot Biennale 4” inside JANM, devoting the ground floor to drawings, including comics, ‘zines and sketchbooks, and showing art from a range of disciplines upstairs.

Two large murals by Andrew Hem and kozyndan will also be featured in the exhibit, as well as work by artists, such as James Jean, Jim Lee, Kim Jung Gi, Katsuya Terada, Luke Chueh, Audrey KawasakiNathan Ota, Mu Pan and Yoskay Yamamoto.

In addition, there will be a photography installation from Hamburger Eyes.

Nakamura finds it hard to name a favorite artist, but he admits that he roots for “the underdogs who are working extra hard.” An example of this is Yumi Sakugawa, whose work can be seen in ‘zines and comics. There will be a video installation featuring a ‘zine reading by Sakugawa.

Kimura is also a big fan of Edwin Ushiro, citing the artist as “someone to watch.”

He’s huge right now, but he’s growing even bigger as a national and international artist,” Kimura added.

There will be a replica of Ushiro’s studio on site in which visitors will be invited to draw.

Kimura also likes Rob Sato’s technical ability and admires the shocking imagery of Mari Inukai, stating that the artists makes you feel differently about the world around you, as well as art itself.

“I like to think that Giant Robot has established a culture of some sort that maybe changed the landscape a little bit of what art is and then what a shop is like and what culture can be,” Nakamura said. “These are things that I grew up with that were separate and we unified and turned it into a package of some sort.

Want to go?

When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday-Sunday and noon-8 p.m. Thursday from Oct. 11-Jan. 24. Free opening celebration 7-10 p.m.

Where: Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles.

Tickets: $9 adults, $5 seniors and children 6-17 and free for children 5 and younger.

Information: 213-625-0414, www.janm.org

Also, check out the Giant Robot Store!

Giant Robot Store

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-7 p.m. Sunday.

Where: 2015 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles.

Information: 310-478-1819, www.giantrobot.com

GR2 Gallery

Hours: Noon-6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, noon-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon-7 p.m. Sunday.

Where: 2062 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles.

Information: 424-246-7626, www.giantrobot.com

“Welcome Home” by Esao Andrews will be on exhibit in “Giant Robot Biennale 4” at the Japanese American Naitonal Museum in Los Angeles Oct. 11-Jan. 24.

Vans announces Limited Edition Vault by Vans collection with Takashi Murakami

Having already teamed up with the likes of TWOTHIRDS, Sneakersnstuff and Taka Hayashi earlier in the year, Vans has announced a new forthcoming collaborative effort with Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami.

Known for his vibrant anime-inspired artworks that often incorporate motifs from Japanese traditional and popular culture, Murakami’s personal liking for wearing Vans’ classic Slip-On during work helped bring about this partnership, which will see a premium range of limited edition footwear, apparel and skate decks released in late June.

For more information on this collaboration, pick up the latest issue of the HYPEBEAST Magazine, in which certain details of this upcoming collection were revealed.

Korean girls react to American snacks

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 Audrey Magazine:

While there are many videos of Americans reacting to Asian food and pop culture, the reversal is less common. Now a new YouTube series called “Korean Girls React” flips the Americans-react-to-Asian-culture video trend on its head.

In this video, Korean girls taste American snacks for the very first time and give their honest opinion of it. The snacks include Goldfish, Poptarts, Rice Krispies, salt and vinegar chips, Twizzlers, Cheez-Itz and Warheads.

While there were obviously many different opinions, a couple of interesting trends emerged. Most of the girls agreed that the poptarts tasted too artificial. One girl even complained that “it tastes like a candle.”

Rice Krispies seemed to be a favorite amongst most of the girls whereas the twizzlers and warheads were very, very unpopular.

One thing that viewers all over the world should be able to relate to are the complaints that the snacks were too unhealthy or fattening, followed by later admissions that the snacks are too addicting to be left uneaten. Ah, the power of junk food!

Pikachu meets the Renaissance in the wacky paintings of Notre Chauvet

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RocketNews 24:

 

Ronald McDonald towers over distraught men and women in floral wreaths, who reach out desperately to touch his glowing, Christ-like figure.

A 17th-century Simon Vouet painting is reimagined with a female figure from a 1960s comic-book, who shields herself from Father Time’s anger as Ned Flanders looks on laughing.

Welcome to the world of Notre Chauvet. Drawing on their training in traditional painting to combine classical elements with figures from pop culture, brothers Jo and Graeme Hagan create brash, dystopian visions that are as colourful as they are dark.

The Hagan brothers began releasing work as Notre Chauvet earlier this year, in a marked departure from the traditional impressionist style of their previous work. The group takes its name from the Chauvet cave in Southern France, which contains the earliest known cave paintings in the world. They see themselves, therefore, as carrying on a 40,000-year-old tradition: that of collaborative art.

Working in oil paint, as well as other materials such as gold leaf and silver foil, Notre Chauvet mash together two styles of illustration that could not be more different: stylised comic-book art, and Renaissance depictions of the human form.

 

▼ ‘Death of Father Time’

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▼ ‘The Becoming’

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▼ ‘Illusion of Lying’

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▼ ‘Split Decisions’

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Other paintings are firmly in the world of 2-D animation. Pikachu is surrounded by a crowd of cartoon characters, from Batman to the Pillsbury Doughboy.

▼ ‘Pikachu’s Nightmare’

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In W.A.L.T. (or “We All Love Terror”), an army of Mickeys have black empty space for eyes. Brains, blood and colourful vomit decorate the manic scene. It’s not pleasant, but its unpleasantness is transfixing.

▼ ‘W.A.L.T.’

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In their paintings of 20th-century icons, it’s not only Disney characters who wear costume and masks. Disguise is a recurrent theme: Shirley Temple becomes a facepainted clown; Marilyn Monroe, a prostitute juggalo.

 

▼ ‘Insane Clown Prozzie’

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▼  ‘Shirley’s Surprise’

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At times, it’s hard to know if these juxtapositions are rallying against their subjects’ iconic status, or subscribing to it.

▼ ‘Lord Shakur’

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▼ ‘Fame’

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Under clothing label Death Suite, the Melbourne-based artists have also released some limited edition T-shirts featuring their designs.

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▼ Who knew Winnie the Pooh getting his brains knocked out could look so cool?!

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You can follow Notre Chauvet on Instagram, where they post updates, as well as some stunning images of their work in progress. Check it out!

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“Cool Japan” mall set to open in China

 

RocketNews 24:

 

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The “Cool Japan Promotion Organization,” an organization dedicated to bringing traditional and popular Japanese culture to countries overseas through various business projects, has announced their plans to open a Japanese mall in the Chinese city of Ningbo, Zhejiang. The mall will provide shoppers with a unique Japanese shopping experience, including clothing stores and anime theaters, alongside other distinctly Japanese businesses.

 

%22Cool Japan%22 Mall Set To Open In China

The mall is the first step in “Cool Japan‘s” attempt to open up business ventures abroad, as many companies in Japan are reluctant to do so. “Cool Japan” is supported by both public and private entities is seen by the Abe administration as an attempt to improve the image of Japan abroad by making it seem “cool.” This particular organization was started in November of last year to encourage and participate in the exportation of iconic Japanese goods, including music, food, anime and video games.

Altogether, the mall is estimated to cost approximately 56 billion yen, 10 billion of which will be provided directly from “Cool Japan” holdings. “Cool Japan” is working directly with the H2O Retailing Corporation of Osaka, who will be operating the mall once it has been built. H2O Retailing is responsible for the management of department stores throughout Japan, including Hankyu and Hanshin. At this time, no official date has been provided as to when the mall will be completed.

Following the conclusion of this project, “Cool Japan” will move on to the next part of their business abroad campaign, which will be a television station that will broadcast Japanese shows, anime, and films throughout Southeast Asia. The project will start with a 5 to 10 billion yen investment and is intended to be kicked off in Indonesia before spreading to other parts of the region. It will be a collaborative effort with the Tokyo based broadcasting company SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation.

The third part of the campaign is a Japanese restaurant district to be set in Singapore. “Cool Japan” plans to invest 1 billion yen into this phase of the project.

[Via: Asahi Shimbun.]

 

Check out this link:

“Cool Japan” mall set to open in China

Link

A-pop! Top 10 stories of 2013 : The best, and the best of the worst, of last year’s Asian pop media moments

With 2014 underway, it’s the perfect time to take a moment and reflect on 2013’s biggest hits and misses in pop culture. It’s been an interesting year, which saw Asian Americans breaking ground in new ways in pop media, as well as some spectacularly offensive moments from celebrities and teenagers alike. Let’s look back!

10. Kristen Kish of “Top Chef”

If you’re a reality show fanatic, then you may remember that chef Kristen Kish won this year’s season of the competitive cooking reality show “Top Chef.” Kish, who is a Korean American adoptee, was the first Asian American female winner on the show. Kish’s prize included $125,000, and she spent a portion of it on a trip to Korea to discover and connect with her homeland for the first time.

Kish’s run on “Top Chef” took place in Seattle, which featured episodes in numerous well-known restaurants in the Emerald City, making her tenure on the show and subsequent win more memorable for local viewers (and this column’s readers).

9. “Life of Pi” at the Academy Awards

Although the 2014 award season is just around the corner, I’d like to return to this past season and call out director Ang Lee’s win during the 85th Academy Awards earlier this year. Lee, who is Taiwanese American, took home an Oscar for Best Director for the adventure drama film “The Life of Pi.” Lee is also known for his directorial efforts on “Brokeback Mountain” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

In addition to Lee’s Oscar award, “The Life of Pi” was nominated for a total of 11 awards, and took home more Academy Awards than any other film nominated for 2013. The film also starred Indian actors Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tabu, and Adil Hussain.

8. Katy Perry goes geisha

During this year’s American Music Awards, mega pop star Katy Perry performed her hit single “Unconditionally” live against a geisha-inspired backdrop, which included Perry and her backup dancers sporting kimonos, oil-paper umbrellas, and pale make-up.

Perry’s use of Oriental imagery was annoying because it continued to perpetuate the stereotype that Asian women make for submissive, docile, and doting lovers. The worst part is that Perry doesn’t seem to understand what is offensive about her use of these images. She saw the performance as an homage to Japanese culture. How typical.

Unfortunately, music award shows are hotbeds for offensive racial images and slurs. I don’t think this is a trend that will go away in 2014, but can we at least hope that some celebrities will have more awareness about these things?

7.  Clichés on “Dads”

Several media outlets and blogs reported on the blatant, racist humor found in the FOX sitcom “Dads.” The freshman sitcom, which features Asian American actresses Brenda Song and Vanessa Lachey as leads, generated controversy when the show’s pilot showcased Song appearing in a skimpy “Sailor Moon” outfit as a joke.

Although the controversy first came to light in September, the show survived its initial negative response, and has since been picked up for a full season. I’ve actually watched a few episodes of “Dads,” and I don’t find it funny or original at all. I’m surprised it has made it as far as it has. Still, 2014 has just begun — it’ll be interesting to see whether this show survives past its first season or not.

6. Hayao Miyazaki’s imminent retirement

Famed Japanese Academy Award-winning director and animator Hayao Miyazaki made waves in 2013 when he announced his imminent plans for retirement. Miyazaki, who has become synonymous with the Japanese anime industry, is revered for his acclaimed animated films, such as “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Princess Mononoke,” and “Spirited Away.”

Miyazaki cited his need to rest among primary reasons for his retirement, as well as a desire to pursue other projects outside of animation. Though his retirement is not yet official, Miyazaki’s latest film “The Wind Rises” will see a limited U.S. release in early 2014, so his work is not disappearing from us quite yet!

5. Roger Ebert’s death

The world bid adieu to famed film critic and journalist Roger Ebert in April 2013, who passed away after an 11-year battle with cancer. Ebert is revered in Asian American cinema circles for his public defense of the indie film “Better Luck Tomorrow” at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002. “Better Luck Tomorrow” was director Justin Lin’s debut film, and is considered a cult classic in independent Asian American film. Ebert’s public defense put the movie on the radar of major studios, and also widened the distribution of Asian American films to new audiences.

Ebert was a true supporter and friend to Asian American filmmakers, actors, and audiences alike, as he understood the importance for multifaceted representations of minorities in American media. Roger Ebert, you will be dearly missed.

4. Chinese food goes viral

One of the most popular YouTube videos in 2013 was the inane music video for “Chinese Food,” a pop song performed by unknown teenager Alison Gold. The video observes Gold craving and singing about Chinese food, which is illustrated through fellow teens dressed as geishas, cliché Oriental music, and an adult man in a panda suit. You know, just the usual hallmarks of Chinese cuisine and culture.

Apparently, mimicking geishas was a trendy choice in offensive Oriental imagery this year. I don’t think anybody actually enjoyed this song, but it was one of those ridiculous car wrecks that nobody could avert their eyes from, giving the song its unpredicted popularity. The song even charted on the Billboard Hot 100, and spawned a prequel music video that explains the origins of Gold’s love for Chinese food. Don’t watch it. Seriously.

3. Miss America: Nina Davuluri

America finally saw its first Asian American queen during the 2014 Miss America pageant when Indian American Nina Davuluri took home the title during this year’s competition. But despite the fact that Davuluri was born in America, detractors lambasted the pageant organization for awarding the crown to someone who allegedly wasn’t American, simply based on her race and skin color.

Davuluri brushed the negative commentary aside, however, and refocused the conversation on her then-future plans for her reign. Haters aside, Davuluri’s crowning is monumental because it’s not every day you get to see an Asian woman take home the crown in a mainstream beauty pageant. No matter your stance on beauty pageants, I think we can agree that representation in all facets of mass media is important.

2. Reflecting on the “Fast and the Furious” franchise

This year saw both happy and sad news from the “Fast and the Furious” movie franchise. The sixth installment — titled “Fast & Furious 6” — is the most popular installment to date, and opened this past May amid much fan anticipation. “Fast & Furious 6” was also the third highest-grossing film worldwide in 2013.

Director Justin Lin was one of the franchise’s most prolific directors, having directed four installments of the films, including the recent sixth one. In 2013, Lin announced that he would no longer direct the films due to the demanding and overlapping production schedules of the sixth and seventh films. Director James Wan took over for the seventh film.

More recently, lead actor Paul Walker’s unexpected and tragic death sent the franchise’s future into question.

The seventh installment, which had been on a holiday break at the time of Walker’s death, was delayed for a few weeks to allow filmmakers to rework the script. The seventh film is currently slated for release in spring 2015.

1. High drama in hi-tech: Google gets scandalous

There was a point in 2013 where you couldn’t consume news online without catching a glimpse of the unfolding scandal out of Silicon Valley. In the midst of Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s divorce from former wife Anne Wojcicki, a rumor erupted that the power couple split when Brin began a new relationship with Google Glass marketing manager Amanda Rosenberg. Rosenberg is of Asian descent.

The scandal made such waves that celebrity magazine “People” even made it one of its cover stories, and published a photo of an Asian girl, who was mistakenly identified as Rosenberg. Their gaffe caused uproar in the media, which was made especially ironic given that magazine editors and interns could have, well, Googled and fact checked the photo to verify that it was actually one of Rosenberg.

Still, all the commotion from this high-profile love triangle makes this my top pop culture story for 2013. The tech industry never fails to surprise!

Check out this link:

A-pop! Top 10 stories of 2013 : The best, and the best of the worst, of last year’s Asian pop media moments

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‘Black lifestyle’ in Japan

Though pale skin has denoted beauty in Japan, it no longer counts for everyone. Hina lives her life according to the ‘B-style‘, or the ‘black lifestyle‘. This includes going to the tanning salon regularly to become as dark as American hip hop artists.