Sunday, September 09, 2012

Mali Kouanchao's "KK," 2007

KK is a 2007 mixed media piece by Lao Minnesotan artist Mali Kouanchao measuring 45" x 45". It is part of her current series, Displacement II: Never Free, examining the implications of US deportation of Khmer and other Southeast Asians in the late 20th and early 21st century.

It employs the techniques of pop culture and collage juxtoposing photography, paint, and reproductions of classic Chinese propaganda posters in the social realist tradition to examine the inner voice and energy of Khmer deportees.

Mali Kouanchao has noted that "KK examines the construction of images connected to Asian and Asian American boys, especially those who have been strongly influenced hip hop and the b-boy movement but who are largely invisible in the art of the 20th and 21st century Southeast Asian American visual artists."

She added "This piece examines how we participate in the cultures around us and how images shaped us. But these images also displace us. What are the images, the things boys like KK still cling to, to remind them of home, even when that 'home' has sent him to the land of his family's origins, a place that he is a stranger too."

Kouanchao observed that "In Cambodia, many of the deportees are bringing American culture to the youth, including hip hop, skateboarding and more to make a living and to rebuild their lives."

Additional pieces that she is developing will eventually examine the core hip hop pillars of DJing, MCing, Graffiti, Breaking and Beatbox as they are being expressed by both the deportees and the locals. There are hopes she will be able to exhibit these in 2013 in time for the National Lao American Artists Heritage Month celebrations being organized.

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