‘Past Present | Future Imperatives: Queer Space Time’ Opens in Los Angeles

And now diaCRITICS puts on dancing shoes (and a favorite old song or two) to announce a multitalented showcase gala event, kicking off a month-long exhibit in Los Angeles, cosponsored by DVAN.

This Saturday, February 25, 2012, opens Past Present | Future Imperatives: Queer Space Time at Sabina Lee Gallery, featuring artists Việt LêGenevieve Erin O’BrienJai Arun Ravine, and Tina Takemoto, and some musical guests from the past, present, and future. 

The opening night offers short films, food, installations, and performances. The shorts screen at 7pm. Then at 8pm, One Night Band begins playing. Collaborators Việt Lê and Genevieve Erin O’Brien had dreamt of an all-Asian American Queer band from the future that performs retro covers. In a spectacular one night-only event, this futuristic band teleports to 2012 to disrupt the dystopian present. Special guest stars Leslie Mah, Karen Tongson, Sheri Ozeki, Jenny San Angel and others make up this imaginary all-star One Night Band.

The exhibition itself runs from February 25 to March 14 at Sabina Lee Gallery. An artists’ statement and the four artists’ bios are featured below, as well as additional information about the gallery location and hours. 

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From the artists: 

imperative grammatical mood:

• give an order

• express a desire

• make a request

• offer advice

• recommend something

What is queer time? What is colored people’s time? And queer people of color time?
Crossing, cruising time zones and erogenous zones, this show explores transnational queer bodies through space and time. Queer time challenges standard notions of linear progress and biological time. There is no single, straight-forward model of development (pun intended) but rather a multiplicity of movements and moments. Queer temporalities collapse the binaries of time, sexuality, and progress. The past, present and future is blurred. Gendered divides are re-imagined. First and third worlds meld.

The Global South is stereotyped as “backwards” while the ―”advanced” Global North is the forward-moving engine of development. Political economist Timothy Mitchell observes that “the experience of modernity is . . . a relationship between time and space.” Shifting city skylines trace timelines of progress. The exploitation of gendered, raced labor is built upon this uneven terrain. Labor is the site of multiple oppressions.



At work and play, queer time reconfigures institutional and intimate relationships. In a Queer Time and Place, gender theorist Jack Halberstam argues that “Queer uses of time and space develop in opposition to the institutions of family, heterosexuality, and reproduction.”  The past, present, and future meet through queer bodies of color and their imagined communities. “Queer subcultures develop as alternatives to kinship-based notions of community,”  Halberstam notes. Enmeshed within trans-local communities, these four artists explore time, space, race, and translation. Through queer postcolonial time, they reexamine still-present pasts and offer possibilities for dystopic/ utopic futures.




Việt Lê world premieres his sexperimental music video for an original trilingual hip pop song entitled love bang! Shown with related large scale photographs and relics, the video conjures a time-traveling transgender love triangle set in Việt Nam and Cambodia. Lê received his MFA from UC Irvine and his PhD from the University of Southern California. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Lê received fellowships from the Civitelli Ranieri Foundation (Italy), the Banff Centre (Canada), Fine Arts Work Center, Fulbright (Việt Nam), PEN Center USA, Center for Khmer Studies (Cambodia), and the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.


Genevieve Erin O’Brien‘s piece “GEO Work”—a series of 8-hour durational performances and video installations—investigates and explores the unseen overlooked labor of the service industry, and troubles the viewers’ relationship to labor. A Queer Vietnamese-Irish American interdisciplinary artist, community organizer, and popular educator, O’Brien received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute Chicago as well as a Fulbright fellowship (Việt Nam). Her solo performances and installations have toured nationally, including at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.


Jai Arun Ravine‘s experimental film Tom/Trans/Thai approaches the silence around female-to-male (FTM) transgender identity by addressing tom and trans-masculine identities in Thai and Thai American communities and the transnational relationships between gender and language. Ravine’s experimental karaoke music video—a mis-translated cover of the song “Faen Christy” by Dutch artist Christy Gibson— explores the term “Faen,” a non-gendered Thai word for romantic partner, purportedly derived from the hybridization of the English words “fan” and “friend.” Ravine is a mixed race Thai American writer, dancer, video and performance artist who received an MFA in Writing & Poetics from Naropa. A recipient of fellowships from ComPeung, Djerassi and Kundiman, they are the author of แล้ว and then entwine (Tinfish Press, 2011) and the chapbook Is This January (Corollary Press, 2010).


A timely commentary on American citizenship and militant xenophopia, Tina Takemoto’s musical mash-up Looking for Jiro looks to the past to find a gay Japanese dandy incarcerated during WWII. Gentleman’s Gaman evoke found-object art and craft produced in the internment camps. Takemoto is an interdisciplinary writer, theorist, and performance artist whose work explores issues of illness, gender, race, and queer identity. She has presented artwork and performances internationally and has received grants funded by Art Matters, James Irvine Foundation, San Francisco Arts Commission, Andy Warhol Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.



Sabina Lee Gallery (971 Chung King Road, Los Angeles CA, 90012) is open Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The exhibit is made possible by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, DVAN (Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network), Claremont Colleges, and VAALA (Vietnamese Arts & Letters Association.)

For further inquiries please call (213) 620-9404 contact via email at [email protected]

For opening night, this events page has a map and RSVP.


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