Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

Astria Suparak: Asian futures, without Asians

Image from “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” (1999), part of “Asian futures, without Asians” by Astria Suparak.


Centre A is pleased to announce the Canadian premiere of Asian futures, without Asians, a new multimedia presentation by artist and curator Astria Suparak.

This version of the live performance/lecture is commissioned by Centre A and will take place online on Saturday, April 9, 2022, from 2 to 3:30 PM PDT.

Register HERE.

The recording of the lecture will be on view at Centre A as part of The Living Room, from Wednesday, April 27 to Saturday, April 30, 2022, during gallery hours (12 PM to 6 PM).  

Organized by Henry Heng Lu

Asian futures, without Asians asks: “What does it mean when so many white filmmakers envision futures inflected by Asian culture, but devoid of actual Asian people?”

Part critical analysis, part reflective essay and sprinkled throughout with humour, justified anger, and informative morsels, this one-hour illustrated lecture examines nearly 60 years of American science fiction cinema through the lens of Asian appropriation and whitewashing.

Using a wide interpretation of “Asian” to reflect current and historical geopolitical trends and self-definitions (inclusive of East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia, Central Asia, North Africa, and the Pacific Islands — the latter two of which are not Asia), this research-creation project examines how Asian cultures have been mixed and matched, contrasted against, and conflated with each other, often creating a fungible “Asianness” in futuristic sci-fi.

The quick-paced performance lecture is interspersed with images and clips from dozens of futuristic movies and TV shows, as Suparak delivers anecdotes, trivia, and historical documents (including photographs, ads, and cultural artifacts) from the histories of film, art, architecture, design, fashion, food, and martial arts. Suparak discusses the implications of not only borrowing heavily from Asian cultures, but decontextualizing and misrepresenting them, while excluding Asian contributors. 


Astria Suparak is an artist, writer, and curator based in Oakland, California.

Her cross-disciplinary projects address complex and thorny issues (like white supremacy, colonialism, and racial capitalism) made accessible through a popular culture lens (such as sci-fi movies, rock music, and sports). Straddling creative and scholarly work, the projects often take the form of publicly available tools, databases, and histories of subcultures and omitted perspectives.

Over the last year Suparak’s creative projects have been exhibited and performed at MoMA, ICA LA, The Walker Art Center, The Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, and as part of the For Freedoms billboard series. Suparak has curated exhibitions, screenings, and performances for art institutions and festivals including The Liverpool Biennial, Museo Rufino Tamayo, The Kitchen, Eyebeam, MoMA PS1, and Expo Chicago, as well as for unconventional spaces such as roller-skating rinks, sports bars, and rock clubs.

Centre A would like to acknowledge the funding support of the BC Arts Council for this project.

Accessibility: The gallery is wheelchair and walker accessible. If you have specific accessibility needs, please contact us at (604) 683-8326 or [email protected].

Centre A is situated on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. We honour, respect, and give thanks to our hosts.