INTER-RUPTURE is a hybrid installation/performance art piece that simultaneously manifests and ruptures rubrics of temporality, gender, mediation, westernization, and performer through the intersections of live performance, motion capture, projection and audience interaction. Condensing and colliding music written for Asian characters by Western composers, INTER-RUPTURE explores the orientalist tropes and imaginary (Erotic East, Dramatic Dowagers, Submissive Slave, Waiting Wives, Pure Princesses, Colonial Consequence) that still persist today.
Inspired by Stephen Chen’s reflections on his experiences and tensions as an Asian male mezzo performing Western opera, INTER-RUPTURE transcribes the ruptures of sight embodied by his performances (a male that sounds female, an asian in a western construct) into a site of performance and discourse. As Stephen performs, his movements are captured by a motion camera, and those movements are transposed onto an Asian shadow puppet projected behind him. It constructs a janus-faced experience that is in itself aesthetic yet also raises the issues of representation and colonialism that are latent in any form of aesthetic appreciation, particularly of “classical” or institutionalized forms that are upheld as “eternal”/”universal” standards.
Conceived and performed by: STEPHEN CHEN | COMPLETED: 2015/2018
Using an aria from Madame Butterfly, Stephen traces White Savior narratives of colonization, where bodies and culture are willingly traded in for Christianity and Capitalism.
Taking the trope of the dutiful and loyal Asian wife, Stephen explodes how this both normalizes and tempers activism over gendered violence that Asian women face.
Originally performed as a duet, Stephen reimagines and recombines it as a solo to illustrate the mask of feminine decorum and restraint.
Mashing up a Princess in a Domestic setting, who both share a common desire to be rescued, like a prostitute.
In this classic Gilbert & Sullivan favorite, Stephen sings behind the projector and the audience, synced to a projection of a supercut of Youtube yellowface performances to manifest how Western culture had rendered Asians invisible and mute (by imposing what they think Asians should say) in the pretext of art.
LOVE LOOK AWAY collides representation, construction of desire, the exaltation of western modes, into the experience of being a non-“normative” Queer / Queer Asian.