My interview with Nico Lang for the Windy City Times is live online! It sums up quite succinctly a lot of what has brought me to where I am today, and what influences the work I make.
"Jerry Blossom Brigade," the piece I’ll be performing (alongside some amazing artists and queer community members) this Friday for December First Fridays: Summoning a New Queer Reality is a manifestation of my history, politics, and personal experience as a genderqueer, Filipino, US Navy veteran, visual and performance artist.
Although Junio explained that they already felt like they’d been performing for different people, it was the character of Jerry Blossom that allowed Junio’s interest in the medium to flourish. “It began just as a name,” Junio explained, but Jerry started to grow into a manifestation of my suppressed behaviors, cultural signifiers slapped up against white privilege and color. This performance had the potential to become a vehicle to discuss these kinds of issues.” For Junio, Jerry Blossom is an act of resistance. “I think a lot about the invisibility of Filipino bodies in space, performance and art,” Junio said. “Filipinos are the second most populous Asian population, but we’re nowhere to be seen on TV. Our experience is not represented.”
REVIVAL poster series
Photography and design by Kiam Marcelo Junio, 2013
Here are the posters I designed for REVIVAL. It was an honor to photograph and work with these beautiful and talented performance artists whom I admire immensely.
REVIVAL is a sexy, immersive experience. Equal parts dance party/performance art/spectacle.
October 25th and 26th
doors at 10pm
no admittance after 11pm
event completes at Midnight
Come get sweaty with us!
FOR INFO ON TICKETS VISIT: http://kck.st/1ajf4AH
Featuring 10 of Chicago’s hottest performance artists including:
Precious Davis & Kan Seidel
*Music by Smirk (Wolf+Lamb, Clown and Sunset)
*Production design by David Andora and Sean Hunt
Revival puts the dance party right on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion Stage in Millennium Park. REVIVAL asks you to plug into a visceral and sexy experience that asks: What are we praying for? What are we willing to sacrifice?
The chrysalis is in formation. Prepare to be converted.
MAKE YOUR RITUAL DONATION TODAY: http://kck.st/1ajf4AH
Anonymous asked: You seem to think a lot in the "us vs. them" mentality; Whether it concern race or sexual preference/orientation. It's people who think like this that give more concern for cases like Trayvon Martin over cases like Edward Snowden.
I don’t really think in an “us vs. them” mentality. Rather, I think in terms of scale and time. On a macro scale, I look at larger social dynamics and histories of colonization, oppression, and power structures. On a micro level, I look at the reality of the daily lives of different people, including myself. Then I connect them together and see what has led to what.
Social dynamics are much more complicated than what we think them to be. Each “side” (and there are an infinite number of “sides”) will always think in the way its been taught and socialized to think. I don’t judge people for the way that they’ve been taught, but I also don’t silence my own dissatisfactions, especially when assessing how I’ve come to them. And I too, of course, am a reflection of my own learning, whether that be normative (Roman Catholicism, the US Navy), radical (queer theory, performance art, etc), or otherwise.
When I make blanket statements about white people or straight people, I don’t necessarily intend to call out every single person of that group. Rather, they’re observations of specific people in that group that act in a way that’s indicative of their social normativity. They are observations of learned and embodied behavior in function. When I talk about “them” (whomever “them” is at the time), I am assessing my place in history and in social power dynamics. And when I express my dissatisfactions, they are usually because I know of other ways of existing that are more akin to my own ideals or vision of a future.
Furthermore, I reserve my right to choose what to believe and what to listen to or care about. I don’t expect everyone to feel passionate about what I do, nor do I care to care about what everyone else cares about. I choose what is closest to me and what resonates with my own search for knowledge. I care about the Trayvon Martin case because as a person of color, I can identify with the rife conflicts that the case brought up about racism, police state, and the prison industrial complex. I make my work about race and gender and power dynamics, and I find what’s happened with that case to be reflective of the social condition of America in a way that both challenges and increases my own knowledge base about these things I care about. I have little interest in the Edward Snowden case because espionage and national security issues do not affect me on a deeply personal level, nor do I have the background knowledge, nor the time or patience to research, to really and fully investigate and involve myself in those conflicts.
So I would like to correct you in your assumption about me. I don’t think in terms of “us vs. them,” but rather “us + them + me + history + society + shit I care about”
And if you don’t believe me, you really don’t know me at all.
It’s taken years of de-conditioning to truly believe that my body is worth loving.
That my presence is valid.
That simply realizing the space I occupy and the time I mark, that marks me, is in every way relevant and revolutionary.
That beauty standards are socioeconomic constructions that I refuse to continue to value and believe.
That my body is unique and beautiful.
That despite histories of trauma and abuse, I am not broken.
I am whole, and I am blessed.
Something makes me uneasy about posts that say, “imagine if Trayvon was white, would the same situation and ruling have happened?”
It makes me uneasy not because they’re false - of course it was racially motivated. We live in a culture that simultaneously fetishizes and dehumanizes black bodies, a culture set by the precedence of centuries of slavery and segregation, continuing today with the prison industrial complex (a legalized form of slavery).
Statements that ask us to reverse the races (Trayvon as white and Zimmerman as black) seem well intentioned but they also serve to maintain the status quo - sympathy for the white body, vilification of the black body.
And most importantly, it’s upsetting that people have to ask others to imagine Trayvon as white and erase his blackness, for him to be seen as human, for the injustice to be understood, for the racial inequality to be evident, for people to feel, “that could have been my son, brother, or friend.”
LEX·IC·A - Jerry Blossom & Mister Junior - January 2013
Jerry Blossom & Mister Junior
Kiam Marcelo Junio a.k.a. Jerry Blossom is a familiar face to Salonathon. I first encountered Kiam via a submission to Chicago IRL and soon after experienced a plethora of inventive and vividly sharp performances discussing their Philippine heritage, naval career through the shifting lens of gender and class. Kiam continues debuting new works and series with exponential fervor. Kiam was also just awarded Chance Dances Critical Fierceness Mark Aguhar Memorial Grant. Find out more about Kiam during my recent interview with them: soundcloud.com/joevarisco/kiam-marcelo-junio-interview-a
Mister Junior is one of those forces of life that passes through a social climate and leaves it altered and renewed. Their spirit of collaboration and engagement is in a constant state of forward movement. Recently Mister Junior began an expanded tour around the country jumping in and out of Chicago in time to audition for America’s Got Talent. Details of airdate on their site soon.
LEX·IC·A is a celebration of the ways in which we communicate with one another and the knowledge we share in this process. It seeks to explore the myriad of complex and beautiful ways we share, play, love, suffer and honor one another through performance work and strive to cultivate community. LEX·IC·A is an inclusive event for anyone interested in procuring dialogue and discourse through performance. Take risks, challenge norms, resist and thrive!
- 70 Percent of Anti-LGBT Murder Victims Are People of Color
- While people of color make up about 30 percent of the United States’ population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned.
- Report: Immigration Status aRace Affect Domestic Workers’ Pay
- Once convicted, black offenders receive longer sentences compared to white offenders. The U.S. Sentencing Commission stated that in the federal system black offenders receive sentences that are 10 percent longer than white offenders for the same crimes.
- Marijuana Prohibition Turns 75, Blacks Three Times More Likely to be Arrested Than Whites
- According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime.
- A number of states have bans on people with certain convictions working in domestic health-service industries such as nursing, child care, and home health care—areas in which many poor women and women of color are disproportionately concentrated.
- African Americans were twice as likely to be arrested and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police.
- The prison population grew by 700 percent from 1970 to 2005, a rate that is outpacing crime and population rates. The incarceration rates disproportionately impact men of color: 1 in every 15 African American men and 1 in every 36 Hispanic men are incarcerated in comparison to 1 in every 106 white men.
- [TW: Rape] Canadian police accused of abusing native women
- CNN breaks down the numbers: > Nearly nine out of 10 people “stopped and frisked” under a controversial New York Police Department policy in 2011 were African-American or Hispanic.
- The War on Drugs Is Really a War on Minorities
- Martin Luther King assassinated by US government: MLK civil trial decision
It’s on Facebook, so it’s official now.
The Mark Aguhar Memorial Grant Winner:
Kiam Marcelo Junio is a multidisciplinary artist living in Chicago, IL. He works in multiple media including photography, video, printmaking, installation, burlesque, and performance art. His research and art work centers around queer identities, the Filipino American diaspora, and post-colonialist Asian American tropes and stereotypes, and military and civilian power dynamics.
Jerry Blossom is Kiam’s alter-ego, a genderqueer Filipino male bodied femme-presenting persona, obsessed with assimilating into Western culture and beauty standards.
Kiam served seven years in the US Navy. He was born in the Philippines and has lived in the US, Japan, and Spain. He is also a registered Yoga teacher.
Congratulations also to the Critical Fierceness Grantees, Rami George and Betsy Odom!
Come join us this Saturday at Chances at the Hideout to celebrate!
The Hideout Inn, 1354 W. Wabansia, Chicago
**THIS SATURDAY NIGHT THE MARK AGUHAR MEMORIAL GRANT AND CRITICAL FIERCENESS GRANT WINNERS FOR WINTER 2012 WILL BE ANNOUNCED**
HOSTED BY VAJAQUEQUE BROWN
FEATURING DJS SWAGUERILLA AND LADY MISS NAVY PIER
*DOORS FOR CHANCES AT MIDNIGHT*
IAMKIAM.COM - brand new site for the brand new year, updated with current works.
Check it out, y’all!
I’ve been working on this for the past couple days, and it’s finally ready. My old homepage was beginning to feel too cluttered and unorganized. So, ready for the new year, here is a brand-spaniking new IAMKIAM.com.
Enjoy, and comments are always appreciated.
<3 U ALL. Happy New Year!
When someone tells you that you have privilege…
It does not mean that:
- you are a bad person
- you are hateful or bigoted
- you cannot suffer or experience pain
- you cannot also be a member of an marginalized group
- you willingly exert power over an marginalized group
It does mean that:
- you are a member of at least one dominant group
- as a member of that dominant group, you benefit - directly or indirectly - from the oppression of marginalized people, whether you like it or not
- you have unearned advantages simply from your membership in a dominant group that those belonging to marginalized groups do not
- your privilege can be invisible to you, as can the oppression of marginalized groups
- you need to check your own privilege and should not expect members of marginalized groups to educate you
Also, please understand intersectionality. You can still be white and struggle from mental illness or poverty, but so can people of color.
(rebloggable by request)
Anon asked: How is being transgender different from being transethnic? I’m sorry, this may seem like a trolling question, but I genuinely want to know.
I’m sad that this is confusing :(
Mostly ‘cause it means that the awful transethnic people have been doing too good of a job in appropriating the term and co-opting trans narratives.
First. Transethnic was (before this recent fad) used to describe the experiences of PoC who have been adopted by white families. It is theirword. Which should also make it very clear how and why it is massivelydifferent of an experience than being transgender.
Second. Now that the term is being appropriated by a group of white people who claim to be a different race, often using language that invokes and co-opts and abuses transgender narratives, this is likely where your confusion comes from.
Simply put: race and gender do not work in similar ways. At all. They serve different purposes.
White people invented race as a means to justify stealing and murdering and colonizing PoC.
Gender is something that exists in most cultures, as close to being a universal trait of human life.
When we say that gender is socially constructed and that race is socially constructed (which is were this false equivalency comes from in the first place) we are not talking about the same thing.
Race only — now and forever — serves white supremacy. Which is why it is sooo disgusting for white people to, after stealing and murdering us for so many years, try to colonize ‘Asian’ (like in that recent reblog ). When ‘Asian’ is something white people made up in the first place to deny our humanity and occupy our countries.
Gender doesn’t work like that.
It is also interesting, no? that only white people ever claim to be transethnic but gender has always been plural and of great diversity in many cultures?
Anyway. This is my vague and disorganized explanation for why they aren’t the same thing. And never will be.
This is the most succinct explanation I’ve read on the subject thus far. Thank you.
Nikki S. Lee
(born Lee Seung-Hee, 1970, Korea) in her Projects, in which she spent several weeks assimilating into a cultural group and has someone take her photo within the group. Her identities in these projects traverses age, race, and social classes.
pictured here: The Ohio Project, The Stripper Project, The Lesbian Project, The Tourist Project, The Hispanic Project, The Hip Hop Project.
Tseng Kwong Chi, photographer, performance artist, Keith Harring’s main photographer. Born in Hong Kong and lived in Canada and studied in Paris, died of AIDS complications in 1990.
Kwong Chi developed an artistic persona in the late 1970’s as a kind of Chinese Communist dignitary complete with the classic Mao Tse-Tung suite, dark eyeglasses and a tag stamped “SlutforArt” (first user of hashtag, perhaps?)
Many of his photographs are deliberately composed in the heroic Maoist Cultural Revolution style. His hand is stuck cavalierly in his pocket, and deliberately includes the camera’s cable release in the frame…
Actions for an Asian Immigrant
performance, 45 min. duration
Kiam Marcelo Junio, 2012