'Lucid Dreams And Distant Visions': A Diverse Representation Of The South Asian Community

'Lucid Dreams And Distant Visions': A Diverse Representation Of The South Asian Community

South Asian heritage takes the spotlight.
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It’s strange to see myself reflected in the darkness of the charcoal portrait. Chitra Ganesh’s "Devika Rani (2012)," depicts a woman far too regal to encounter me. The subject features an elaborate headpiece, a bindi above her brows, and eyes that are hauntingly beautiful. Dressed in jeans and having just taken a final, my reflection mars her work. It is, however, an incredible feeling to find art I see myself represented in; there aren't many museums where I can find a portrait of a woman adorned with a bindi.

The Asia Society Museum, from June 27th to August 6th, 2017, features "Lucid Dreams and Distant Visions: South Asian Art in the Diaspora." Only a four-minute walk from the 68th Street stop on the 6 train, the Asia Society Museum exclusively displays traditional and contemporary Asian art. The current exhibit includes nineteen contemporary artists from the South Asian diaspora, all of whom now live in the United States, and possess work spanning four decades. Collectively, the group depicts the South Asian experience: socially, culturally, and with regards to the tensions in the international sociopolitical climate.

Though the exhibit only occupies the second floor of a relatively small museum, it is unassumingly powerful. I was emotionally overwhelmed once finished with it; its impact is difficult to put into words.

Anila Quayyum Agha's "Crossing Boundaries," is arguably the most 'Instagrammable' feature of the exhibit, but the laser-cut steel and light bulb installation reflects the contradictory qualities inherent in the immigrant experience. The geometric patterns of the installation are meant to mimic those of traditional mosques in Pakistan. Being a woman, Agha was excluded from these while growing up in Pakistan. The space that her art creates, however, is open to people of all creed, color, and belief.

There are incredibly diverse portrayals of the South Asian community: portraits of overlooked silent-film actors, paintings of Muslims in various fields of work, critiques of appropriated South Asian culture in Western Society, and short films about Tibetan refugees. While some artists provide very direct imagery of the social and cultural makeup of their homelands, others are more layered in their depiction of cross-cultural tensions and racial boundaries.

The impact of a place on a person's work is resonant throughout the exhibit. Ruby Chishti's "The Present is a Ruin Without the People," pictured below, represents the spaces that individuals have unwillingly left in times of conflict and war. Chishti attempts to demonstrate the relationship that forms between the personal experiences that immigrants encounter, and the singular narratives that are applied to them as a group.The numerous textiles she uses, like so many of the artworks displayed, prompt questions over the endless, and varied stories hidden in them.

Overwhelmingly, the exhibit combats the xenophobia and nationalism that flood our nation. The artists widen the narrative surrounding immigrants and attempt to rid viewers of their existing stereotypes, providing detailed individual stories and trials. They reveal how little anyone, (and even I, a child of South Asian descent), knows about history; people of color have been so severely overlooked.

Coincidentally, the exhibit meets with the seventieth anniversary of Indian independence from British rule. The art displayed celebrates the genuine expression of South Asian lives, in all of their duality.

For immigrants, the children of them, and anyone of South Asian descent, this exhibit is no less than a love letter to you. It ends on August 6th, 2017. Don't miss an opportunity to see your heritage take the spotlight.
Cover Image Credit: Sudeepa Singh / The Asia Society Museum

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'Baby, It's Cold Outside' Is NOT About Date Rape, It's A Fight Against Social Norms Of The 1940s

The popular Christmas song shouldn't be considered inappropriate.

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The classic Christmas song "Baby, It's Cold Outside" has recently come under attack. There has been controversy over the song being deemed as inappropriate since it has been suggested that it promotes date rape. Others believe that the song is another common example of our culture's promotion of rape. You may be wondering, where did they get that idea from?

The controversy has led to one radio station, WDOK, taking the song off the air and banning it from their station. Some people believe that this song goes against the #MeToo movement since it promotes rape. However, people are not considering the fact that this traditional Christmas song was made in the 1940s.

People are viewing the song from a modern-day cultural perspective rather than from the perspective of the 1940s. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" was written in 1944. Many people have viewed the song from the perspective of our cultural and social norms. People believe that the song promotes date rape because of lyrics that suggest that the male singing is trying to stop the female singer from leaving, and the female singer is constantly singing about trying to escape with verses like "I really can't stay" or "I've got to go home."

When you first view the song from the perspective of today's culture, you may jump to the conclusion that the song is part of the date rape culture. And it's very easy to jump to this conclusion, especially when you are viewing only one line from the song. We're used to women being given more freedom. In our society, women can have jobs, marry and be independent. However, what everyone seems to forget is that women did not always have this freedom.

In 1944, one of the social norms was that women had curfews and were not allowed to be in the same house as a man at a later time. It was considered a scandal if a single woman so much as stayed at another man's house, let alone be in the same room together. It's mind-blowing, right? You can imagine that this song was probably considered very provocative for the time period.

"Baby, It's Cold Outside" is not a song that encourages date rape, but is actually challenging the social norms of society during the time period. When you listen to the song, you notice that at one part of the song, the female states, "At least I can say that I tried," which suggests that she really doesn't want to leave. In fact, most of the song, she is going back and forth the whole time about leaving stating, "I ought to say no…well maybe just a half a drink more," and other phrases.

She doesn't want to leave but doesn't really have a choice due to fear of causing a scandal, which would have consequences with how others will treat her. It was not like today's society where nobody cares how late someone stays at another man's house. Nowadays, we could care less if we heard that our single neighbor stayed over a single man's house after 7. We especially don't try to look through our curtain to check on our neighbor. Well, maybe some of us do. But back then, people did care about where women were and what they were doing.

The female singer also says in the lyrics, "The neighbors might think," and, "There's bound to be talk tomorrow," meaning she's scared of how others might perceive her for staying with him. She even says, "My sister will be suspicious," and, "My brother will be there at the door," again stating that she's worried that her family will find out and she will face repercussions for her actions. Yes, she is a grown woman, but that doesn't mean that she won't be treated negatively by others for going against the social norms of the time period.

Then why did the male singer keep pressuring her in the song? This is again because the song is more about challenging the social norms of the time period. Both the female and male singers in the song are trying to find excuses to stay and not leave.

On top of that, when you watch the video of the scene in which the song was originally viewed, you notice that the genders suddenly switch for another two characters, and now it's a female singer singing the male singer's part and vice versa. You also notice that the whole time, both characters are attracted to one another and trying to find a way to stay over longer.

Yes, I know you're thinking it doesn't matter about the genders. But, the song is again consensual for both couples. The woman, in the beginning, wants to stay but knows what will await if she doesn't leave. The male singer meanwhile is trying to convince her to forget about the rules for the time period and break them.

In addition, the complaint regarding the lyric "What's in this drink?" is misguided. What a lot of people don't understand is that back in 1944, this was a common saying. If you look at the lyrics of the song, you notice that the woman who is singing is trying to blame the alcoholic drink for causing her to want to stay longer instead of leaving early. It has nothing to do with her supposed fear that he may have tried to give her too much to drink in order to date rape her. Rather, she is trying to find something to blame for her wanting to commit a scandal.

As you can see, when you view the song from the cultural perspective of the 1940s, you realize that the song could be said to fight against the social norms of that decade. It is a song that challenges the social constrictions against women during the time period. You could even say that it's an example of women's rights, if you wanted to really start an argument.

Yes, I will admit that there were movies and songs made back in the time period that were part of the culture of date rape. However, this song is not the case. It has a historical context that cannot be viewed from today's perspective.

The #MeToo movement is an important movement that has led to so many changes in our society today. However, this is not the right song to use as an example of the date rape culture.

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8 Features On A Guy's Tinder Profile That'll Make You Swipe Left

“The Office” in your bio isn't quirky, it's basic.

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Tinder is a mix between a game and social media. You swipe through profiles and can adjust the age range and mileage range to your preferences. In addition, you can sign up for TinderU so that you see people from your university and other universities around the country. When each profile comes up, you can swipe left for no or right for yes, and then the next profile will come up, and so on. There are two paths to matching with someone. If you swipe right and don't get an "It's a Match!" message, either he hasn't seen your profile yet or he swiped left. There's no way to know if someone swipes left on you, so don't worry about rejection. If you swipe right and get an "It's a Match!" notification right away, then he already swiped right on you, so yay! The thing about Tinder is that you come across way more swipe lefts than swipe rights. After spending a month on Tinder, I realized that there were 8 features on profiles that made me quickly swipe left.

1. Every picture on his profile is a group picture

I'm not in the FBI. If he makes me investigate to find out what he actually looks like, I'm just going to swipe left.

2. Having a reference from "The Office" in his bio

You tell 'em Stanley.

“The Office" is a great show, but having it in your bio is BASIC and overused.

"I'll be the Jim to your Pam."

"The Dwight to your Angela."

"The Office and chill?"

3. Dogs*

One of the few perks of Tinder is that almost every guy has dog pics on his profile. I have swiped right on guys solely because of their dog(s). *The awkward part is when their dog is their profile picture. Then they're 100% trying to lure you in with their dog and that's just mean, swipe left.

4. "Here for a good time not a long time"

WOW Chad, you are SO ORIGINAL AND COOL.

5. Stating his height in his bio 

Guys are like:

"I'm like 7'5."

"6'0 almost 6'1."

"5'7, if you can't handle that, then swipe left."

This is Tinder, not a doctor's appointment.

6. A picture with his ex-girlfriend and "this could be you" over her face

Yes, because the idea of replacing someone is EXACTLY what I'm looking for!!

7. Shirtless pictures in the bathroom mirror

Taking a mirror picture in the locker room after working out is one thing, but having a picture in your home bathroom? That pretty much screams, "I send unsolicited d**k pics."

8. Pictures of his car

Tinder is for matching with people, not, uh, Transformers.

Tinder was fun and interesting for the first couple weeks but after that every profile kind of ended up looking the same. One month after downloading Tinder, I deleted my profile. As Fall Out Boy once said, "Thanks for the memories, even though they weren't so great."

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