This new body of work cross-examines the fraught lineage of a craft technique and identity formation by looking at its hybrid nature. Specifically, how filet lace was introduced to the Philippines during Spanish occupation and how it then developed for the American palette. This is in comparison to the conception of a gay pornstar, Brandon Lee, who created an ambiguous Asian American persona, who happens to be Filipino, but never played upon during his fame. I am looking at these two seemingly unlikely moments to interrogate the historical authenticity of a craft technique and what it means to be Filipinx/a/o, especially within the diaspora.
Typically, the motifs embedded in filet lace are religious, geometric, mythological, or pastoral. Craftspeople follow and perfect an enforced pattern, but sometimes these designs fracture and deviate into new stories. Analogous to the evolution of filet lace as a material witness through two imperialist forces, Brandon Lee traversed the screen to question the desires and power dynamics of a brown body with an American boy-next-door image in a sea of white flesh. Both endure in multiple histories and unfixed identities and I aim to mesh them together.
The project looks at the intersections of a complicated craft that has multiple origins framed through a queer transmigrant experience. Although the reference is on a particular craft, the work is not a recreation. Instead, I use it as a historical anchor to filter the complex history between countries and how it reflects on a body, particularly an Asian American identity negotiating different cultures through a queer framework.