“The Texas tradition of homecoming mums, where high school students adorn themselves with large and elaborate floral pins, goes back over a century. The unique designs that are common today emerged in the 1970s and 1980s, part of the deep cultural attachment to football made famous by shows like Friday Night Lights. Antonius-Tin Bui connects these mums, highly styled and weighed down with objects that are meaningful to the wearer, to queer fashion, particularly the larger-than-life stylings of drag performers. Antonius uses the common association of mums as a part of a culturally conformist high school culture that prevails in Texas to pay homage to the untold stories of growing up queer in a deeply traditional society. By “queering” the traditional Texas mum, Antonius reimagines this object as an outlet for self-expression in an environment that can be difficult for youth who do not identify with traditional gender norms. “ -María-Elisa Heg, curatorial fellow at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
Special thanks to Junior Fernandez for being a phenomenal photographer! Your vision of documenting these mums in 35mm point & flash style truly brought this project to life.
This project was in collaboration with DJ Domtop, Kumquat, Duke Diesel, S Rodriguez, and Sara Balabanlilar.
Materials: 1999 Britney Spears Doll, Penis water gun, Ball gag with leather collar, Félicette portraits, text by S Rodriguez, polyester/satin/acetate/nylon/metallic ribbon from Arne's, bell chimes, plastic garlands, glitter letters, feather boas
installation at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
Sara Balabanlilar & S Rodriguez
Homecoming Group Shot
Not Sorry for the Trouble
Laser & hand cut paper pieces that reclaim the Asian craft tradition of paper cutting
HCCC is pleased to present Queer(ing) the Wheel, an original performance showcase organized by current resident artist Antonius-Tin Bui and interdisciplinary artist Tonya Huynh.
This site-specific performance pays homage to the late Playhouse Theater (housed in the building next door to HCCC), one of the largest theaters-in-the-round in the nation in the early 1950s. On February 21st, the 68th anniversary of the Playhouse’s opening night, Bui and Huynh will transform HCCC’s parking lot into a temporary space in which audience members and performers will interact through “vehicles-in-the-round,” arranged to explore the personal narratives of each artist.
For many queer artists, especially in Houston, the car is a living archive of existence, representing a place of safety and refuge, a place to change, to hook-up, to cruise, to transition, to escape, to curate experiences, and to be authentic. By creating a vehicular theater-in-the-round, Bui and Huynh invite the audience to engage in the experiences of seven artists, while referencing the intimate style of the pioneering Playhouse Theater, which successfully broke down barriers between actors and audiences.
The event falls on the opening night of Experimental Action (ExA), Houston’s biennial international performance art festival, in which Bui will also perform. Experimental Action is a three-day festival that facilitates and shines a spotlight on experimental performance, showcasing both local and international artists and exposing Houston audiences to innovative performance art. ExA will take place February 21-23.
Supported by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts!
Nước is a Vietnamese word that is commonly translated into "country" and "water".
I explored the double meaning of this word through a durational performance piece that reflects on the impact of U.S. militarism and imperialism on Vietnam.
Vietnam flag, USA flag, Yellow Body Paint, Durational poses related to our relationship to the Vietnam War and National Anthem
Burning 100 Demons
Burning 100 Demons is a Lunar New Year ritual that celebrates our queer ancestors through spoken, written, and embodied poetry, planned in conjunction with Antonius Bui’s yêu em dài lâu (me love you long time) exhibit at Lawndale Art Center. Inspired by Lynda Barry’s One! Hundred! Demons!, we will be reflecting on our demons of 2018, the life moments that haunt you, form you, and stay with you. We invite the community to burn their demons and dream new intentions as a way to bring forth the Year of the Pig. Ching-In Chen and Antonius Bui, the co-organizers of the event, are honored to be collaborating with artists Koomah and Olaniyi Akindiya to create an intersectional space for healing and catharsis.
We kindly request that you bring a sacred object of your choice to place on or near the altar in the exhibit for the duration of the performance. Dinner will be provided the night of the event.
Burning 100 Demons was celebrated at Lawndale Art Center on February 1st. Thank you AKIRASH for allowing us to host the event amongst your solo show, Ara Oru Kinkin (Masquerades Mythology), in the John M. O'Quinn Gallery.
The Yaddo Means It's Real
A series of portraits taken on Photo Booth during my time at Yaddo.
Queer(ing) the Canon is a series of free figure drawing sessions for the public to practice seeing, appreciating, interacting with, and drawing queer bodies. Hosted by the Station Museum of Contemporary Art, this series actively combats the hetero-patriarchal canon of art by centering the bodies and experiences of queer folx, as opposed to the bodies that have been historically valued (i.e, straight, white, male). Queer(ing) the Canon creates body-positive spaces, meaning we welcome models of all genders, body types, abilities, and racial/ethnic backgrounds.
Cost: In an effort to be inclusive as possible, the sessions will be completely free to the public.
Duration: Each drawing session will last 3 hours. You are free to come and leave at any time.
Model Compensation: Models will be paid $30/hr, minimum half hour slots. If you are a performer of any sorts (drag, burlesque, etc.) and come in your look, we are able to pay $40/hr to compensate for makeup and preparation time.
Materials: Please bring your own drawing materials and surfaces. Some free drawing materials will be provided on a first come first serve basis.
***Those who touch or photograph the models without prior permission will be asked to leave immediately.
Feel free to contact Kim Tran at email@example.com for more info.
A Collective Intervention: Creating Space for Memory Work at the Wall for Refugees
"All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory." -Viet Thanh Nguyen
One of the most visible and public ways that the US has remembered its involvement in the Vietnam War is through the somber, black, wall erected on the Washington Mall in our nation's capital. The names of US veterans who died during the conflict are engraved into the Wall, while reflecting back the faces of visitors in its polished black marble. The Wall has been hailed as a profound site of healing for those that visit, often leaving items there dedicated to fallen loved ones or to let go of traumatic experiences.
There are no Vietnamese names on the Wall. Framed in the nationalist context of the Washington Mall, this memorial conveniently "forgets" the Vietnamese (both civilians and veterans alike) and "remembers" American veterans as the primary victims of war. Yen Le Espiritu writes that "without creating an opening for a Vietnamese perspective of the war, these dramatic and public commemorations of the Vietnam War refuse to remember Vietnam as a historical site, Vietnamese people as genuine subjects, and the Vietnam War as having any kind of integrity of its own."
This project calls for a collective intervention at the Wall by Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, and other refugee community members still affected today by the legacy of American militarism and imperialism in Southeast Asia, allowing the community to reclaim their past experiences, history, and memories, on our own terms. This project envisions a nationwide, coordinated, mass dedication of items at the Wall by refugee community members on the upcoming April 30 anniversary in 2020 (45 years after US military withdrawal from Vietnam). However, this proposal asks for seed money for smaller-scale dedications organized by members of the progressive Vietnamese American organization VietUnity, to take place on April 30, 2019 (The first one took place on April 30, 2018). Items would be created, found, collected, by VietUnity members and their local networks throughout the year, then placed at the Wall on April 30, 2019 by several VietUnity representatives.
Since its opening in 1982, national park rangers have collected all items left at the Wall, which are catalogued and stored in a national archive. During a visit to the archive in 2015, with the help of archive staff, I found that only six items had been left by members of the refugee community, out of thousands. There has been both an explicit (the names of your dead are not here) and implicit (this space is not for you, don't leave your items here) exclusion of refugee voices from this national memorial.
The coordinated, mass dedication of items from the refugee community at the Wall on April 30, 2020 would act as a physical and symbolic disruption of the US nation state's memory project that justifies US militarism and imperialism in Southeast Asia and other parts of the world through the "forgetting" of its victims, both in the past and present. This intervention centers refugee experiences in ways that refugee community members will determine for themselves, as a collectively curated archive of objects and memories, rather than one designed by state institutions or policy-makers. The open nature of the collective archive insists that the refugee community is not a monolith; that there are complex disjunctures, contradictions, and intersections in our identities and in the ways that we remember the conflict and its continuing legacies felt in our everyday lives today. This project carves out space for a public, nationally recognized memorial formed from the collective engagement of diverse voices in the refugee community rather than one determined by the policies of any single institution.
Thank you VietUnity members for allowing me to collaborate with ya’ll on this project.