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Mallika Rao
Mallika Rao reports on Asian and Asian-American art for the Huffington Post. She used to draw cartoons (of Lifetime movies) at Jezebel, and write all over the place.

Entries by Mallika Rao

Labor Dispute Could Shut Down The Metropolitan Opera

(6) Comments | Posted July 30, 2014 | 2:43 PM

Amid bitter negotiations, employees of one of the world's most famous opera houses are contemplating taking their talents elsewhere at the end of the month.

At the center of the standoff is the Metropolitan Opera's controversial general manager Peter Gelb. Considered both a visionary and an autocrat, Gelb has...

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Styrofoam Stop-Motion Is The Next Beautiful Thing

(1) Comments | Posted July 30, 2014 | 10:56 AM

Somewhere between El Anatsui's tin tapestries and HA Schult's trash people lies the work of Mikey Please. The animator and director makes movies using mostly styrofoam. The familiar packing material -- so bad for our environment -- turns out to be a...

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Stunning Auction Highlights The New Faces Of Middle Eastern Art

(2) Comments | Posted July 29, 2014 | 11:02 AM

Ahead of Sotheby's landmark auction in Doha, Qatar this October, the auction house is exhibiting highlights at its New Bond Street galleries in London.

"The artists represented are some of the most talented and exciting of their generation," Lina Lazaar, Sotheby’s International Contemporary Art Specialist,...

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A GoPro On A Spinning Car Wheel Makes For A Strangely Hypnotic Video

(2) Comments | Posted July 28, 2014 | 1:50 PM

Some day, they will say that GoPros are soooo 2014. Until then, we indulge in visions of the world through tiny cameras that can go nearly anywhere. Below, a hubcap's point of view, courtesy Ryan Fox. The University of Wisconsin student attached a camera to his car wheel...

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Artist 'Stitches' Faces Together To Create Eerily Normal Looking People

(13) Comments | Posted July 25, 2014 | 7:55 PM

It's obvious the subjects in the photo series Metamorfoza are not quite...right. But they're not as off as you'd think, considering the methods employed by Ino Zeljak, the Zagreb-based student behind the project.


Using Photoshop, Zeljak merged portraits of...

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Artist Sends 99 Sad Critters Down China's 'Dead Pigs' River

(0) Comments | Posted July 25, 2014 | 11:14 AM

Last spring, 13,000 dead pigs were discovered floating in the Huangpu River, a main water source for Shanghai residents. The artist Cai Guo-Quiang is marking that horrific moment in ecological history by sailing this vintage fishing boat down the same river:

The Ninth Wave...
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Chinese Businessman Sips Tea From $36.3 Million Ming Dynasty Cup, Angers The Internet

(0) Comments | Posted July 21, 2014 | 4:08 PM

Public opinion does not favor the rich person who acts it. First there was Marie Antoinette, purportedly prescribing cake. Now there's Liu Yiqian, a Shanghai businessman who recently shattered records by buying a tiny porcelain cup with poultry painted on it for $36.3 million.


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India's 'Flower Men' Are A New Kind Of Masculine

(11) Comments | Posted July 17, 2014 | 8:50 AM

There's much to admire in Calcutta's famed Mallick Ghat flower market, but Danish photographer Ken Hermann focused on the dudes. It's easy to see why. The combination of stoic men draped in all manner of florals certainly does a number on traditional visions of masculinity.

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This Mind-Bending Video Of 'Rain' Falling Is Actually Something Much Cooler

(0) Comments | Posted July 16, 2014 | 8:59 AM

Anyone who's experienced a true thunderstorm knows the acoustic complexity of rain. What sounds like a cohesive force is really just a bunch of individual notes, the effect of many single droplets falling on various surfaces at a rapid pace.

This is the schema underpinning "Amaoto no Yurai," or...

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Japan Arrested The 'Vagina Artist,' But These 5 Phallic Toys Are Apparently Fine

(49) Comments | Posted July 15, 2014 | 4:51 PM

The Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi has long been on a mission to make vaginas "casual and pop." It seems in Japan, that's a battle cry. Early this week, Igarashi, who goes by the name Rokudenashi-ko or “Good-For-Nothing Girl,” was arrested by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police.

Her crime was honoring the terms of a crowd-funded project. In a bid to raise money to build a boat shaped like her vulva -- status quo for our girl -- Igarashi offered a prize that runs afoul of Japan's obscenity laws. (See the rather innocuous project video above.)

Donors of a certain level received files containing the 3D data the boat is modeled on, whereby they could, if they wanted, print out Igarashi's vulva for themselves. Japanese police seem be interpreting this as a sale, rather than a donation-based exchange. The arrest has made international headlines, and inspired at least one petition demanding Igarashi's release, with more than 10,000 signatures so far.

Igarashi isn't an unthinking exploitation artist. As the 42-year-old explained last year in an interview with HuffPost, her interest in demystifying female genitalia is personal. She was once ashamed of her body. Like so many women worldwide, she underwent vaginal rejuvenation surgery. She puts the choice down to ignorance. Female genitalia, rarely discussed in Japanese society, seemed to her inherently imperfect. "I did not know what a pussy should look like," she wrote on the boat's crowd-funding page.

Igarashi decided to elevate the vagina's status by honoring it with pop art pieces (and using unabashed terms like "pussy"). Size can matter, she told HuffPost, which is why her vulvic art, like the boat, is so large. "People bear the sense of reverence against a big thing."

For proof, look no further than Japan's annual penis festival. Rooted in ancient tradition, the Kanamara Matsuri, or "Festival of the Steel Phallus," sees thousands of men and women celebrating male genitalia in every way imaginable, save perhaps the most obvious: licking anatomically correct lollipops, grinning from behind penis-shaped novelty glasses, and hoisting enormous phallus sculptures into the air for all to enjoy.

Then there is Igarashi's 3D vulva. As reference, here is the article of Japanese penal code she allegedly overstepped by sharing the potential to recreate it:

A person who distributes, sells or displays in public an obscene document, drawing or other objects shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not more than 2 years, a fine of not more than 2,500,000 yen or a petty fine. The same shall apply to a person who possesses the same for the purpose of sale.

To which, we offer the following images from this spring's Kanamara Matsuri:






UPDATE: Per The Guardian, Igarashi has just been released from police custody and will join her lawyer in a press conference sometime Friday. It is still unclear if the artist faces criminal charges, which could result in up to two years in prison.

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Congolese Photographer Captures The Beauty Of Daily Street Life In Puddles

(6) Comments | Posted July 14, 2014 | 8:44 AM

Next time you pass a puddle, take a look. You may find wonders inside. Consider "Un Regard," a photographic series by Kiripi Katembo Siku, set in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In a twist on the classic genre of "daily life" photography,...

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The Ai Weiwei Museum Of All Of Our Dreams Is Coming

(2) Comments | Posted July 11, 2014 | 9:01 AM

It's a famous story in Christopher Tsai's family, of his grandfather, who had flown in for a visit in the mid-1960s, demanding an explanation for “that thing on the ceiling.”

The “thing,” dangling from the Tsai family home in Connecticut, was a mobile. Not just any but an original Alexander...

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(0) Comments | Posted July 10, 2014 | 11:29 PM


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On Kawara, Japanese Conceptual Artist, Dies At 81

(3) Comments | Posted July 10, 2014 | 5:10 PM

On Kawara, the 81-year-old Japanese painter and conceptual artist whose fascination with human mortality was legend, has died, The Huffington Post has learned.

The news -- first circulated on Twitter -- was confirmed by a representative of the David Zwirner Gallery. The gallery has represented the artist...

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You Might Not Know It, But Parakeets Have Invaded The Skies Of Tokyo

(5) Comments | Posted July 10, 2014 | 8:53 AM

No one would expect to see green parrots in Tokyo, but that's precisely the sight that seems to greet you when you look skyward in the Japanese city. In fact, the hordes of lime-colored birds are parakeets, the wild descendants of pets imported from India and Sri Lanka...

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Kama Sutra-Inspired Posters Raise Awareness Of An Unlikely Topic -- Police Brutality In Brazil

(0) Comments | Posted July 10, 2014 | 8:46 AM

It's a famous quote, attributed to Alfred Hitchcock: "Film your murders like love scenes, and your love scenes like murders." Apply that logic to poster art, and you've got the concept behind #Kamasurra, a Brazilian graphic design series that depicts police brutality in the style of erotica.

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These Gorgeous Vintage Kimonos Will Change The Way You Think Of The Japanese Garment

(1) Comments | Posted July 8, 2014 | 8:49 AM

If we think of the kimono at all, it's of the heavy, silken, flowery garments of the Edo period, starting in the early 1600s. They were status symbols, a way for merchants to show their wealth without threatening the primacy of shoguns, who ruled the fiefdom.

As Japan westernized, so...

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You May Not Know About The First Chinese Americans, But You Should

(20) Comments | Posted July 7, 2014 | 8:49 AM

It wasn't easy being Chinese American in the early days. From exclusionary laws to the racist caricatures that dotted newspaper comic pages, America wasn't exactly laying down the welcome mat.

And yet, there were success stories. The Chinese American, a newspaper founded by the activist and journalist Wong Chin Foo,...

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Chinese Artist Exhibits Gorgeous 'Sculptures' Built By Bees

(10) Comments | Posted July 5, 2014 | 1:44 AM

The Beijing-based artist and beekeeper Ren Ri is a focused man. His new three-part series -- titled "Yuansu" in reference to the Chinese word for "element" -- turns bees into his collaborators. Yuansu II features sculptures made by bees, of beeswax.

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How China's Most Famous Grounded Artist Collaborated With A Navajo Man Thousands Of Miles Away

(0) Comments | Posted July 5, 2014 | 1:38 AM

The idea was to raise the profile of a small Navajo art festival by roping in Ai Weiwei, the fiery Chinese dissident artist. And that's precisely what's happened. Suddenly, Navajo TIME, an annual festival that takes place deep in the desert in the American Southwest, is making headlines....

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