Megan Wilson  
megawilson@aol.com
Writings > Mail Order Brides
 
Mail Order Brides: The Untold Story
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)