What histories and discourses are inscribed on the body?
#WeToo is a collection of essays, poems, creative nonfiction, and experimental works published in the Journal of Asian American Studies and in part here on The Margins, as part of a special partnership. Together, this body of work provides language and theory for lived experiences of sexual violence in what is usually dismissed as privileged, unafflicted model-minority life.
Edited by erin Khuê Ninh and Shireen Roshanravan, the larger collection of work is now available in the February 2021 issue of the Journal of Asian American Studies, available for purchase here.
For the series published on The Margins, we had the great pleasure of collaborating with the artist Catalina Ouyang, pairing photographs of her installation work with each piece in this issue. Ouyang describes her body of work as follows:
My practice, which I frame as “undisciplined,” addresses themes of trauma, desire, and dissidence. I draw holistically from literature, history, myth, and memory to create objects, videos, and performances that indicate counternarratives around identification, representation, and self-definition. Responding to the deeply-rooted fear and hatred of what is discursively rendered as the “feminine” (historically used to justify structural and colonial violence), my work is driven by the notion that violence is both horrific and common, and guided by thinkers such as Veena Das, Frantz Fanon, and Sara Ahmed.
My sculptures merge wood, plaster, steel, bone, stone, hair, salvaged objects, and other materials to produce intensively modeled objects on the edge of recognition. The sculptures evoke the monstrous, the Othered, the erotic, and the cast out. Much of the work begins with the human figure and either expands or fragments it, proposing the body as a politicized landscape subject to partition. Key to my work is how the body is oriented in space: the sculptural body, and the viewer’s body. What histories and discourses are inscribed on the body? How does it exist in contingency with architecture? I am invested in the power relations of a scene, and the ways that proprioception is present, politicized, and usually unspoken.
Catalina Ouyang’s work as paired with the #WeToo collection on The Margins
#WeToo: An Introduction by erin Khuê Ninh and Shireen Roshanravan
When it comes to how rape culture is enabled, made mundane, what are the hard questions we have not yet posed?
Rape Is/Not a Metaphor by Juliana Hu Pegues
Not upon, over, at, or near, rape is not adjacent to anything. It is the thing.
The Preferred Terms are Mine by Gowri Koneswaran
This body is more than epilogue / This body is cartography
A Letter to a Thousand Other Mothers by Mashuq Mushtaq Deen
Sometimes I’m mad at you for never teaching me how to get away.
Sometimes I’m mad at myself for opening a door I could not close.
To My 21-Year-Old Self by Thaomi Michelle Dinh, illustrated by Bryan Dan Trinh
Even though you didn’t say “no” in what you’ve been told is the “right” way to say no, you were saying no.
Dumb Luck by Christine Kitano
Through the radio speakers / I hear a woman shivering. I think of my friend, newly pregnant, / also on her way to work, how she’ll twist a ring off her swollen finger.
Library of Lost Poetry Machines by Margaret Rhee
She, like the others, could only slightly feel the edge of some thoughts, and some memories. It was better that way, they all agreed.