Artist Mike Lai will stage an “epic battle” between “Team Bruce Lee” and Aztec dancers in a performance art piece at the San Jose Museum of Art on Thursday, February 21, 2013. The performance is part of the opening event for the exhibitionsNew Stories from the Edge of Asia: This/That (in which Lai’s video work is included) and Rising Dragon: Contemporary Chinese Photography. Visitors are invited to view the exhibitions from 5 to 8 PM on February 21. The performance will begin at 7 PM. Admission to the event, part of SJMA’s Third Thursday series, is free. No-host bar.
The opening celebration is co-sponsored by the Asia Society.
Mike Lai’s works are primarily site-specific, interactive performances, which he documents in manipulated photographs and videos. He often wears the iconic yellow jumpsuit that Bruce Lee wore in the movie Game of Death. He is fascinated with the ways in which Bruce Lee and Kung Fu genre films inform Asian cultural identities. In his work, he creates spectacles in which Team Bruce Lee—multiple performers dressed in yellow jumpsuits—“battle” other iconic cultural or pop culture figures, such as Chinese lion dancers, Mexican lucha libre wrestlers, or superheroes. In doing so, he explores similarities between different cultures and questions stereotypes. For the February 21 performance at SJMA, Lai has designed a dodge-ball game with an origami ball and a court with scoring zones representing advancement in American society, such as jobs, healthcare, or education. As the teams of four Bruce Lee lookalikes and four Aztec dancers win points, they will show off their moves.
Lai is one of five artists whose work is featured in New Stories from the Edge of Asia, on view at SJMA February 21-September 15, 2013. The exhibition presents work by artists who explore shifting, hybrid identities through animation, video, film, and digital media. It also includes works by Erica Cho, Candice Lin, Tran T. Kim-Trang, and the artist collective Mail Order Brides/M.O.B. (Eliza Barrios, Reanne Estrade, and Jenifer Wofford). New Stories from the Edge of Asia is sponsored by the James Irvine Foundation.
Image: Photoshop composite by artist Mike Lai.