What we perceive as objective reality and universal experience is actually the result of a highly individualized subjectivity that warps our understanding of the world; what we take for granted as reality is perhaps more akin to the view from a single isolated donut sprinkle, surrounded by other neighboring-but-separated donut sprinkles (each with their own disparate viewpoints) on a million donuts hurtling through space towards imminent atmospheric disintegration.

It is only through applying monolithic labels that a semblance of unity emerges. One such label is that of the Asian-American woman, signifying the exchange of two continents within the maelstrom of "woman" identification. Femininity, female-ness, and their attendant implications are no longer sure designations of womanhood -- but even within the fluctuating boundaries between gender, sex, and racial identities, the positions of Asian-American womanhood/out-group gender identities demand expression and exploration.

Asian-American political organization has been around since the first waves of Pacific immigration, but as the internet has come of age, these groups have built stronger ties across longer distances. Asian-American activism owes much of its current shape to the racial justice movements that preceded and, in terms of visibility, surpassed it, and while it may be tempting to emulate the tactics and momentum of these other movements, this approach is both reductionist and revisory. And, though the simplifying labels of identity politics may be necessary for political mobilization, they are inadequate as ruling principles of everyday existence. The goal, then, is to distill the political nature of your othered self, and create original dialogues articulating your discontent, but also to create avenues of self-expression not bound to explicitly political ends.

ZODIAC - CAFE is one such attempt to understand Asian-ness, Asian-American-ness, and woman-ness. Bound to the digital, where the rules of identity formation differ drastically from those of the pre-internet world, Diane Z/周家家 and Lilian M/闵一笛 dissect the modern Asian-American woman through her material and immaterial influences -- the legends and myths of childhood translated into mixed medium digital scrapbooks. While the Western Zodiac horoscope is a daily ritual for millions of people, the larger scope of our particular fortunes are born from and pinned to the 12 cornerstone creatures of Chinese lore. Liberated of their restaurant placemat/Orientalist symbolism, they form the lenses in which we examine our cross-Pacific heritage, and both beast and belief in turn become the foundation of our individual contributions.

Zodiac Cafe is open to submissions!

We accept work from female, female-identifying, female-expressing, and genderqueer individuals of Asian or mixed Asian descent. (If you feel unsure if your work would fit in with the project, talk to us!) If desired, we can work with you to figure out how best to realize your idea and display it online.

Interested? ✉ zodiaccafe.online@gmail.com ✉