Culture Criticism ethnic studies filipino history Observations Performance and Conceptual

Mommy Queerest by Kat Evasco and John Caldon

Mommy Queerest by Kat Evasco and John Caldon

As a writer, I’m constantly advised to “write what I know”. Yet, this depends on whether I’m courageous enough to share my story. It’s not difficult to write what I know but the things I know some people (specifically my family) may not care to know. For some time, I’ve grappled with being queer. The awkwardness doesn’t come from my partner’s family or my friends but MY family. The old school, traditional, Christian/Catholic Filipino way is that you don’t talk about whatever would (possibly) embarrass the family.

When I tell friends I’m not out to my family, the response is usually one of surprise. I’m convinced they know but are either 1) in denial, 2) refuse to discuss or acknowledge, and/or 3) gossip about me. I have the visible signs and traits (i.e., large tattoos, asymmetrical haircut, etc.) and…

Apparently, owning a cat makes you gay...

…a cat (undeniably gay, I’m told). So, how does my family not know? And why am I not forthcoming about being queer? Despite what some consider obvious LGBTQ traits, some family members believe I’m straighter than a line. This past Saturday evening, I realized that I’m extremely (mentally) claustrophobic. Yes, I hate closets. I keep finding myself sneaking back in when I’m around people who are supposed to love me. I don’t like being asked the whereabouts of a non-existent boyfriend or why I’m not married and don’t have kids yet. After seeing Kat Evasco and John Caldon’s work, Mommy Queerest performed at Bindlestiff Studio in San Francisco (CA). It completely resonated with me, to say the absolute least.

With an abridged history of the Philippines and Filipino American history, a microphone, and chair, the overall aesthetic for the show was minimal but engaging. Talented designer and artist friend, Aimee Espiritu, did the visuals for the show. With an overhead projector used to show transparencies of photographs and significant years in Evasco’s life, the visuals were reminiscent of a classroom lecture but with an entertaining and poignant narrative.

Evasco’s extraordinary energy, unabashed delivery, and witticism had me believing there’s nothing wrong with me. I don’t need permission but witnessing her sharing her story was incredibly affirming. The life she shares with her audience in Mommy Queerest is something anyone can relate to. It’s not just for gay people, ya’ll. Past the petite frame and strong exterior, Evasco presents universal ideas of acceptance, forgiveness, determination, self-loathing, and love in this one-woman show. Despite Mommy being a work-in-progress, it was impressive to learn both her and co-writer John Caldon were able to pull off an initial run that speaks to so many people and with such depth. I’m looking forward to seeing this particular work evolve and develop.

In Evasco’s own words, “This show is half payback to my mom for making me come out for both of us and half love letter to her for making me who I am.  She’s terrified I’m exposing every skeleton in our family closet — and she should be.  I might be Filipina-American, but cultural silence is non-existent in my world, so like an eager exhibitionist I’m letting it all hang out.

~Source: Article Cool Chick Comediene Kat Evasco Shines in “Mommy Queerest” by Percival Archibal

Acting and divulging of one’s life is art and its (damn) hard work to stand up in front of people for 85 minutes straight (no pun intended) because, as a performer/actress/comedienne, you are trusting the fact that people want to hear the story or they wouldn’t be there. I laughed a lot, found myself nodding uncontrollably, agreeing with Evasco’s words and reflections, and allowing tears to run because there was a lot she touched upon that I can barely begin discussing with my mother and family. Most importantly, to see someone who reminds me of me, what I look like, how I feel, and how I would love to see the world is ridiculously wonderful and refreshing.

Thank you, Kat Evasco. 🙂

Art Art History Conceptual Culture Criticism ethnic studies Observations

Photos from The Matter Within: New Contemporary Art of India @ Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Untitled (2008), Rotating matka (earthen pot), motorized rotational mechanism | Artist: Sudarshan Shetty

Over the weekend, I visited the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and saw The Matter Within: New Contemporary Art of India exhibition. I found myself making my way back to Sudarshan Shetty’s installation work. Both Untitled pieces (the above from his ‘Saving Skin’ series and the one below from his ‘Stab’ series) intrigued me. Although the mechanism tipped the pot back and forth with a constant, even rhythm that mimicked human movement, the piece presented tension and discomfort. The overall work presents the duality of new and old technologies

As noted on the exhibition placard for his work, the pot is a part of a series that ,

…recalls the loss of connection with earth and body, represented by the traditional earthen pot, in an increasingly mechanized universe.

~Source: YBCA exhibition placard

Untitled (2010), Wooden Chair, paint on fiberglass, neon | Artist: Sudarshan Shetty

Similarly, the intricately wooden chair coupled with something modern and contrasts with tradition. The relationship of the old and modern world presents the strain between tradition in a rapidly evolving world.

Artificial Strawberry Flavor-1 (2008), Corian cabinet, fiberglass bottles, oil, acrylic | Artists: Thukral & Tagra

I’m not sure if it’s the abundance of red coupled with the quantity of highly rendered oil and acrylic paintings on each bottle (some easily identified as Hershey’s Cocoa Powder and syrup containers) but this piece worked extremely well. It provided commentary on the nature of consumerism and vibrancy of pop culture imagery in Punjabi society.