Kristina Wong: Sweatshop Overlord
When covid hit and the lockdowns descended, a lot of people were left feeling uncertain, unsafe, and unconnected. Self-declared “self-obsessed performance artist” Kristina Wong maybe felt that way more than most. Uncertain: besides being essentially inessential as an artist, she declares early on in this, her only semi-comic (but still frequently funny) reflection on her pandemic experience, “I have no genetic legacy. I chose to forego children. You receive my repackaged pain and suffering in a way that makes you feel loved. I gave up children for you!” (Laughter, applause.) Unsafe: even before masking/not-masking became an issue, she had to deal with the mask she could not remove. Some people thought “Kung Flu” was funny. She found it a scary expression of anti-Asian sentiment. Unconnected: two of the three things she cites as an inheritance from her retiring, play-it-safe mother are a Costco membership and guilt.
But the third thing was sewing, and so begins her transformative work, making masks for underserved communities, essential workers, and um, Walter Reed military hospital? (“Is America a banana republic disguised as a democracy?” she asks, not for the first or last time.) By pandemic’s end — well, show’s end, anyway — she’s more certain, more safe, and more connected than she might have imagined possible, given the circumstances.
The show is front-loaded with jokes: early on, she riffs on the calling of “Joan of Arc, Maid of Orleans” — she’s “Kristina of Wong, Old Maid of Koreatown,” on a mission to find elastic (“If it stretches, it fetches”), enlist volunteer aid from an army of aunties, and if need be, go down sewing. (Her no-man’s-land crawl to the post office is just plain good stuff.) But jokes or no, she’s horrified by what the next years bring, from anti-maskers to Asian hate crimes to George Floyd to RBG to January 6 to anti-vaxxers, and her frustration shines through like sunlight through tulle. Not surprisingly, the stronger moments are those that aremore personal, such as her remembrance of Corky Lee, a famed photographer who spent his life making other Asian-Americans visible.
Ongoing until Sunday, October 16, 2022
|Sundays, 2pm-3:30pm & 7pm-8:30pm|
|Saturdays, 2pm-3:30pm & 8pm-9:30pm|
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