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Identity as a conscious ongoing process

I think my own identity changes whether I did the project or not. I think identity is a conscious ongoing process. We always redefine who we are, depending what we want to do consciously, and sometimes it’s unconscious, who we hang out with. I know that when I hang out with my lifeguard friends I talk a different way. And I know that when I hang out with my Karate brethren I speak a different way, and I know that when I’m living in Japan I speak a different way, or living in Hawai`i, I slip right back into pidgin. And there’s a certain thing that we sometimes just drift into our identities.

The example I give is let’s say you hear someone talk on the phone. I use it for college students. Say you listen to your roommate talk on the phone, and he talks to his mother, he’s like “Yeah, okay. Yes, okay. Yeah, I gotta go,” and then he hangs up and talks to his boss and he’s like, “Oh, no problem, ha ha, sure, sure, I got it, bye bye.” And then he calls some girl he met at the bar and says “Hey baby, how you doin’?” We have these guises, so I think it’s a process, we’re always changing.


identity

Date: May 3, 2006

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Jim Bower

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum.

Interviewee Bio

Kip Fulbeck was born in 1965 to a Chinese mother and English/Irish father. At age five, he was told by his full-blooded Chinese cousins that he was Hapa. He never gave much thought to the term as a child. As he grew older, faced with the dearth of knowledge relating to mixed-race identity (or worse, the negative connotations associated with it), he began thinking about ways to promote a more realistic and human portrayal of Hapa identity.

Fulbeck chose to explore this issue by creating the Hapa Project as a forum for Hapa to answer the question “What are you?” in their own words and be photographed in simple head-on portraits. He has now photographed over 1000 people from all ages and walks of life. The project is now a book, Part Asian, 100% Hapa (Chronicle Books, 2006) and an exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum from June 8 through October 29, 2006 titled kip fulbeck: part asian, 100% hapa.

Kip Fulbeck has been making films and art about Hapa identity since 1990. Known as the nation's leading artist on the identity, multiracial/ethnicity, and art and pop culture, he has spoken and exhibited his award-winning films, performance, and photography throughout the world. Fulbeck is currently Professor and Chair of Art at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he is a three-time recipient of the Outstanding Faculty Member Award and also an affiliate faculty member in Asian American Studies and Film Studies. (May 3, 2006)

Read the Discover Nikkei article by Kip Fulbeck:
kip fulbeck: part asian, 100% hapa – an artist’s thoughts

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