|Mail Order Brides: The Untold
Through September 30
Once upon a time there were three little girls, who went to the academy
of clever-minds, creative-coifs and (at times) cruel conspiracies.
This is the complex tale of Eliza "Neneng" Barrios, Reanne "Immaculata" Estrada,
and Jenifer "Baby" Wofford, the Filipina collaborators otherwise
known as the Mail Order Brides (M.O.B). Their Untold Story, a cosmetic,
cross-cultural ethnographic investigation into the metamorphosis of
a marginalized cultural phenomenon, is currently being chronicled
at the Chinatown Community Program Gallery in collaboration with the
San Francisco Arts Commission. The narrative flows through the gallery
in six separate chapters that are also summed up by these worldly
women as six essential states of being, six "Words To Live By." Security.
Satisfaction. Comfort. Responsibility. Harmony. Investment. Each section
features a large poster, originally displayed on Market Street as "public
service messages about your private life" through the Art In
Transit program of the San Francisco Arts Commission. The posters,
featuring these three divine domesticiennes, are lush, colorful and
loaded with cultural clichés of Filipino life. Each poses to
viewers an open-ended question (Do You Feel Safe? How Much Longer?
Have You Eaten?), leaving the audience to muse over the relevance
these inquiries may have in their own lives, as well as the complicated
social and familial representations contained within the humorous,
highly-charged vignettes. The posters are framed by "satellite
images" that appear to be from the M.O.B. archives. Supplementing
the stereotypical images presented in the larger works, the smaller
snapshots appear to be a little grittier and raunchier, perhaps the
Brides "acting" out a few of their own personal fantasies
as opposed to those placed on them by cultural trappings. In one of
the pics, a Bride and her female companion straddle a "hog" with
hiked up skirts and knee high boots ready to rev through the dessert.
The legend rides on!
The Chinatown Community Program Gallery
750 Kearny Street, 3rd Floor, San Francisco
Tues. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
(415) 957-1146 (Megan Wilson)