KEVIN EI-ICHI DEFOREST – Invasion of the Hybrids, 2004

Kevin Ei-ichi deForest Invasion of the Hybrids

(c) Kevin Ei-ichi deForest

Hybrid. Perhaps the most intriguing term in the mixed heritage lexicon, it conjures a broad range of mental imagery from the positive and futuristic to the negative and unnatural. In this visual manifestation of the process and politics of cultural hybridity, deForest remarkably manages to hit all points.

A transfer of power is occurring, but whether this is good, bad, or neutral depends on which position you inhabit. The “Invasion” in the title and the submissive pose of the feminine figure on the left suggest violence, perhaps in an analogy to colonial encounters. But the beam of particles, in its kitschy reference to 1950s era sci-fi imagery, downplays the specter of a real threat.

In the present day globalized world, possessing influences from more than one culture has acquired a cachet which has reinvigorated discussions of hybrid identity. Identity, not people- those only exist in the realm of fantasy. DeForest is having fun here, and there is good reason to.

In popular media, occasional attempts to co-opt the scientific discourse of genetics has resulted in the erroneous application of ‘hybrid vigor’ to the human world. Asserting that persons of mixed heritage are somehow biologically more fit, or at least more attractive, is no doubt intended to reclaim power from derogatory notions of being only ‘half.’ However, this perpetuates the idea of race as a biologically valid concept and is just bad science. Borders will only become less clear as mixing is inevitable.

We appear to be passive observers of this scene, far removed from the action and watching it play out on a screen demarcated by edges at the top and bottom of the canvas. The one thing that seems certain is that things are changing, a point underscored by the two irregular shapes that have eaten away at the image. Spreading like a virus, they will grow and further multiply.

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About Lizzie Mariko

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