On a recent trip to Kinokuniya Bookstore (the same day we engaged in Sanrio photo booth fun), I couldn't resist buying Kip Fulbeck's new book Part Asian, 100% Hapa. It's a simple concept, beautifully executed: a basic portrait (from the shoulders up, very little make-up, no clothing) on the right-side page and a statement of identity (and a breakdown of ethnicity) in the subjects' own hand on the left-side page. There are, interestingly, no names.
I find the photos fascinating, and the statements even more so. But I have to admit to feeling a twinge of something's not quite right here, and I'm guessing that part of me must be objecting to the, well, objectification. One of the first things people comment on in regards to mixed race folks are their looks, after all, and this book does nothing to curb the tendency. I'm thinking now of my daughters and realizing that my annoyance threshold when it comes to this sort of thing depends entirely on who's doing the asking and how they're doing it. Anyways, the statements in the book often make up for the vaguely (obviously? subtly? I dunno...) fetish-like quality of the portraits. One woman writes:
What am I? Shouldn't you be asking my name first?
My favorite statement so far is from a young man:
Many of my ex-girlfriends were habitual half-asian daters. These women considered half-asian men "exotic," "sexy," and "just-like-Keanu Reves-in-the-Matrix."
I consider these stereotypes appropriate because I got laid.
Ohmalordy. So funny. And another fave from a twenty-something woman:
i am my mother's driving passion and my father's steady reason...
...in a BATTLE TO THE DEATH.
Okay. I guess I should read the foreword, introduction, and afterword before passing any further judgements. Meanwhile, I highly recommend Kip's (that's what I call him now: I call him "Kip," and sometimes just "K") short film Lilo & Me, in which he documents his uncanny resemblance to every "ethnically ambiguous" animated Disney character ever committed to celluloid. Quicktime required, yo.
I just said "yo."