American Alien

New episodes posted here on August 12th, September 9th, and September 29th.
American Alien, a project developed by Flux Factory Artist-in-Residence Ye Taik, is designed to increase awareness of the Burmese diaspora and to serve as a platform for the Burmese American voice. Through interviews published as podcasts on the Flux Factory website, American Alien will address topics related to Burmese innovation and hybridity.

Comprised of conversations with Burmese American intellectuals and prominent artists of Burmese descent, this project questions notions of individual identity and belonging in a country, which from its very beginning, has been inhabited by displaced people: immigrants, outsiders, refugees, third culture kids and third culture adults. In this light, America’s unifying characteristic is one of difference.

Ye Taik has written the following statement about this project:

As a post-nationalist who resides in Brooklyn, I am very interested in exploring the progressive definition of Home. Culture is an organism that expands and contracts, that breathes within the context of the relationships of people with all different skin colors, all different tones and accents, all different perspectives and all different emotional landscapes. As diverse as Americans are, many people of color are still culturally underrepresented.

The series of three episodes includes interviews with New York-based curator and artist, Tun Myaing; the Library of Congress Florence Tan Moeson Fellow and Burmese American Collective Director, Saw Sandi Tun; and Co-founder of Sulu DC, as well as “proud Burmese American Gypsy,” Simone Jacobson.


Episode One: Tun Myaing

Tun Myaing transformed from a high school gang member into an artist and curator whose work highlights the unusual circumstances of his childhood and the juxtaposition of ordinary mundane things with extraordinary internal conflicts.

Interviewer Alethea Vasilas practices west african dance, post-modern dance theater, and butoh ritual movement. She has recently become a master of cultural anthropology and currently cultivates an organic vegetable farm, continuously orienting herself towards creation. She hopes one day to coalesce an experimental Art Farm that would bring together movement, ecology, emotion, nourishment, and sublimation.

Episode Two: Simone Jacobson

Simone Jacobson breaks down a progressive definition of ‘home’ and how the shared language of hip-hop culture emotionally connects people. She relays her experiences as a proud Asian American performer and teaching artist through dance, poetry, curating, and leading projects such as a recent three-city hip-hop dance tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

Interviewer Michelle Hyun is a cultural producer and researcher collaboratively working on projects with artists and organizations such as Public Movement at the New Museum and Bik Van der Pol with Creative Time. Her work has been realized as part of curatorial projects in the form of exhibitions, public interventions, mass media broadcasts, screenings, and discursive programs. Hyun is currently the 2012-2014 Curatorial Fellow at the University of California San Diego University Art Gallery

Episode Three: Saw Sandi Tun

Burmese American Collective Director, Saw Sandi Tun and Emily Hue wax poetic on the art, community, and disunities present in the Burmese diaspora.

Saw Sandi Tun is Director of the Burmese American Collective, a not-for-profit organization created in 2009 to promote research in the art, history, and culture of the Burmese American diaspora. Interviewer Emily Hue is a Brooklyn-based Burmese American and doctoral candidate in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. Her current research explores how the circulation of Southeast Asian visual and performance art interfaces with emergent markets in connection with the US. She teaches in (Asian) American Studies, and Gender and Sexuality departments at Hunter College and New York University. She has previously been involved in the Asian American Writers’ Workshop in NYC, and worked in the academic publishing industry.


ABOUT THE ARTIST: Ye Taik is a New York based performing artist and also an independent curator of multidisciplinary art and media projects. Currently he is a New York Community Trust fellow through Flux Factory’s Artist-in-Residence program, as well as the Director of Ye Taik and the Black Sheep. His practice is influenced by the fusion of abstract expressionistic dance and is immersed in Eastern and Western philosophy. His works are in the permanent collection of the Library of Congress under the Asian American archives. Ye Taik has been awarded a Presidential Scholarship as a MFA candid for the Theater in Contemporary Performance at Naropa University located in Boulder, Colorado. He is a proud American of the Burmese diaspora.


This project was made possible in part by the New York Community Trust. Special thanks to Ye Taik and the Black Sheep Organization (Kim Burgas and Alethea Vasilas), Burmese American Collective Organization, Flux Factory Executive Director Christina Vassallo, photographer Alison Nguyen, coordinators Emily Hue, Michelle Hyun and all others who participated in this project. Image courtesy Alison Nguyen.