The word “oriental” is often used as a misguided compliment, reducing the diversity of Asian culture into a single word. Society enacts many false cultural assumptions on Asian women, like that they are submissive, quiet, and obedient, and also enables a mass fetishization that displays them as the polarities of hypersexualization and purity. These notions affirm the historical effect of colonization in Asia.
Asian women are an afterthought in media. Primarily, there is a lack of physical representation unless it is a performative gesture of pseudo inclusion that still caters to stereotypes. The only antidote for this crisis of underrepresentation is to make photographs that emphasize the diversity of Asian women. This project, by photographer Elizabeth “Eli” Wirija, conveys to the world the array of personalities, appearances, interests, and passions in the Asian diaspora. It highlights variations of Asian femininity that are both authentic and unapologetic.
How to View Noriental
During the day, Noriental can be viewed on monitors inside the ICP Museum and during evening hours, images are literally “projected” onto the windows of the ICP Museum; they can be viewed from the sidewalk outside the Museum and are most visible after sunset. Learn more about Projected.
About the Artist
Elizabeth “Eli” Wirija is a photographer and creative born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia. Currently based in New York, she obtained a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2016. Her interest in photography was cultivated from observing her father bring film cameras to document family trips. Wirija strives to uplift her people and other marginalized groups against the structures of society that readily oppress our being.