How is Asian-American identity forged and perceived, especially through the global circulation of styles (and the materials used to craft them)? How might that identity be visualized as a plurality as opposed to some sort of “Asian” singular? Collective and fashion label CFGNY (Concept Foreign Garments New York) will consider these questions in a lecture on recent work, focusing on the capsule collection and campaign video Synthetic Blend V.
Synthetic Blend V was commissioned by Triple Canopy as part of Can I Leave You?, a multimedia installation at the RISD Museum included in “Raid the Icebox Now,” on view until July 19. Can I Leave You? responds to Pendleton House, which was built by the museum in 1906 to exhibit the bequest of Charles Pendleton and established the first wing devoted to American decorative arts. The installation centers on the efforts of Americans to define themselves through products and portrayals of China—which are plentiful in Pendleton House, despite the putative focus—whether via porcelain bowls or travelogues, whether out of admiration or animus. Prompted by this combination of American and Chinese objects, CFGNY worked with tailors in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to develop designs and elaborate on the label’s notion of “vaguely Asian” aesthetics. As the collective writes in the essay accompanying the video and lookbook:
We sought to imagine a new narrative for the collection, a new way of thinking about the display of all these “American” objects in a faux eighteenth-century home. We wanted to acknowledge the present absences that peek out from behind the ceramics, furnishings, and decorations, most of which are by unknown makers and are categorized by country of origin, primarily the United States and China.
The lecture by CFGNY will be followed by a response by writer and editor Dawn Chan. Chan has written extensively about digital and new media art’s evolving relationship to the formation and politics of identity, including the techno-Orientalist tropes—whether in international biennials or the remake of Ghost in the Shell (2017)—that limit how Asians and Asian-Americans are represented. The event will conclude with a discussion moderated by Triple Canopy senior editor Matthew Shen Goodman.
Export Exchange is part of the forthcoming twenty-seventh issue of Triple Canopy, which will scrutinize the narratives that animate nationalism and populism and propose the invention of truer stories, alternative realities. The issue will address fictions that come to be understood as real and fundamental to a common identity or are discredited, dismissed, but nonetheless persist as artifacts of thwarted desires, unrealized polities or peoples.
This public program is made possible through generous support from Jane Hait, a founding member of Triple Canopy Director’s Circle; the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; the Jacques Louis Vidal Charitable Fund; the Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; the New York State Council on the Arts; and the Opaline Fund of the Jewish Community Endowment Federation and Endowment Fund. Support for Can I Leave You? was provided through a Craft Research Fund grant from the Center for Craft.
Seating & accessibility
Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. In order to ensure that events are accessible and comfortable, we’ll open the doors thirty minutes prior to each event and strictly limit admittance to our legal capacity. Please check Triple Canopy’s Facebook and Twitter accounts for updates, as we’ll indicate if events are sold out.
Triple Canopy’s venue is located at 264 Canal Street, 3W, near several Canal Street subway stations. Our floor is accessible by elevator (63" × 60" car, 31" door) and stairway. Due to the age and other characteristics of the building, our bathrooms are not ADA-accessible, though several such bathrooms are located nearby. If you have specific questions about access, please write at least three days before the event and we will make every effort to accommodate you.
- CFGNY (Concept Foreign Garments New York) is a New York-based collective and fashion label founded in 2016. CFGNY began as a dialogue between Tin Nguyen and Daniel Chew on the intersection of fashion, race, identity, and sexuality. CFGNY continually returns to the term “vaguely Asian”: an understanding of racial identity as a specific cultural experience, combined with the experience of being perceived as other. Rather than represent what it means to be “Asian” in the singular, CFGNY encourages the visualization of the countless ways of being in the plural.
- Dawn Chan is a New York-based writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Atlantic, Bookforum, the New York Times, the New Yorker, New York Magazine, and the Paris Review, among other publications. She frequently contributes to Artforum, where she was an editor from 2007 to 2018. She is the recipient of a 2018 Warhol Arts Writers Grant and a Thoma Foundation 2018 Arts Writing Award in Digital Art for an emerging arts writer. Chan has been a visiting scholar at New York University’s Center for Experimental Humanities and Social Engagement and visiting faculty at Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies. She recently co-curated the exhibition “Phantom Plane: Cyberpunk in the Year of the Future” at Tai Kwun Contemporary in Hong Kong. In 2012, she co-edited “Common Minds,” a Triple Canopy series on the contemporary infatuation with the brain.