Hapa-palooza 2014: Explore mixed identity through art, music, and film

Hapa-palooza is back, and it's bigger than ever. Vancouver is at the forefront of exploring mixed culture.

Hana Pesut: 'Switcheroo'
Jana Sasaki: 'Tabi Socks'
Hana Pesut: "Switcheroo"; Jana Sasaki: 'Tabi Socks'. Hybridity and identity explored through art at Hapa-palooza. (Images via Hapa-palooza)

Who we be

"I don’t think any of us think in terms of fractions anymore. We think in multiples. I’m Taiwanese. And I’m Jewish. I’m myself." So says Anna Ling Kaye, editor of Ricepaper Magazine and co-founder of Hapa-palooza, North America's premiere celebration of hybridity and mixed culture.

Hapa-palooza is super-sizing for 2014. There are twice as many events compared to last year's festival, including pop-up art and an expanded speaker series.

Since Hapa-palooza is a non-profit corporation, it has been able to reach further for support. Anna Kaye said, "We were able to access good funding sources. the City of Vancouver gave us a small grant, as did Immigration Canada. It is a Canadian festival, and it’s great to have that kind of support.”

In celebrating hybrid ethnicity and mixed culture, Hapa-palooza swings for the fences.

You know you're Hapa if...

"Hapa" is a far-reaching term. If your dad's parents freaked out when he introduced them to your mom, then you're probably Hapa. Kaye described Hapa as "“anyone whose identity is made up of more than one heritage.”

The term "Hapa" is Hawaiian in origin, meaning simply someone of mixed ethnicity. Though the term literally means "half", there are plenty of Hapas who identify as having more than two different ethnicities. Vancouver-based actress Kristin Kreuk is of Dutch and Chinese descent. Fellow Canadian Keanu Reeves has a bit of everything going on. Tim Lincecum, stoner/pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, is White and Filipino. Eddie and Alex Van Halen! Dutch/Indonesian!

Kaye, though, is examining the "this and that" of Hapa, rather than the "part-this and part-that". The distinction is important: Mixed Flicks curator Jeff Chiba Stearns had previously said, "'If we continue to play this game of ‘how mixed are you’, then that will be very dangerous.”

We do not yet live in a post-racial society, but at least we're recognizing that it isn't just black and white (and yellow and red and brown).

This is the source of both Hapa-palooza's relevance and its year-round momentum. Kaye says, "By creating nonprofit society we’re able to establish a year-round presence, rather than just a spike in media presence and then the issue disappears again." Kaye touts Hapa-palooza as the biggest of its kind on the continent.

Vancouver's large Hapa population (Hopulation?) is par for the course, says Kaye: "Youth of mixed heritage is the fastest-growing demographic in North America." Vancouver is the perfect locus for an event like Hapa-palooza, she says, because mixed ethnicity is just not that big a deal for Vancouverites: "Vancouver's Hapa population is quite visible and open-minded, and open to a celebration of this kind."

That, she says, is because when you have this many ethnic and cultural groups in once city, eventually they're gonna mix. Aw, yeah.

In that spirit, let's get it on: here's what's up for Hapa-palooza 2014. All events are free.

September 23-27: Pop-up art exhibit in Chinatown

Hapa-palooza will maintain a presence at thisopenspace. Hapa HQ, if you will. You can check out the Hyphen Art Exhibit, featuring work from Hana Pesut, whose globe-spanning "Switcheroo" photo series is disarming in its simplicity; as well as Jana Sasaki, whose photo work brings a texture that loofahs your eyeballs.


You'll also be able to see work from multimedia artist Nargis Dhirani and painter Sunkosi Maya. These artists will gather for a talk on September 27 at 1pm.

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