Works > A Gift to Birobidzhan, 2009

Asa Elzen: The guide and the seeing man
Asa Elzen: The guide and the seeing man
video stills

The guide and the seeing man. 2008. Video stills from a film about the dialectical relationship between tourism and migration and the personal narratives of a Danish backpacker, a Tibetan tourist guide and a Swedish video artist, all crossing the Tibetan border hoping to fulfil their own specific agendas. The film also offers an account of the long history of explorers, colonizers and adventurers who have tried to reach Tibet’s capital Lhasa in disguise. Clothes act as signifiers of pleasure and desire while simultaneously enabling surveillance and conquest. The primary attraction of the cross-cultural dress is the promise of ‘transgressive’ pleasure without the penalties of the actual change. Such metamorphosis does little to subvert existing power hierarchies, since the cross dresser may always reveal or revert to the white identity underneath the native clothes. (Gail Ching-Liang Low, White Skins/Black Masks: The Pleasures and Politics of Imperialism).

Asa Elzen attended the Whitney Independent Study Program 2007-08 and received her MFA at the Royal University College of Fine Art, Stockholm, 2002. She has been an artist in residence at a.o. Changdong Art Studios, Seoul, 2004; Sanskriti Kendra, New Delhi 1999; IASPIS, Stockholm, 1997. Her work has recently been shown at: Eskilstuna Konstmuseum, SWE; A Space on the Side of the Road at Röda Sten, SWE; Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, UK; Metro-Poles: Art in Action, Bronx River Art Center, NYC; Hong-Gah Museum, Taipei; Third Guangzhou Triennial, Guangzhou, China; 1st Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Moscow; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; National Museum Reina Sofia, Madrid; Cinéma l’Entrepot, Paris; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Rooseum, Malmoe, SWE; 5th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea; Incheon Women Artist’s Biennale, Incheon, South Korea (upcoming). Since 2008 she is a board member of the artist collective Föreningen JA! / The YES! Association.