January 25, 2023
Corky Lee and the Work of Seeing
“Minorities Unite! Fight for Democratic Rights!”
There is a symmetry between Corky Lee’s passing and the rise of Stop Anti-Asian Hate: the departure of Asian America’s greatest documentarian and its most visible recent efflorescence. Years earlier, the brief window of postwar Asian American radicalism seemed to have already swung shut. Today, our most notable figures are corporate CEOs and conservative politicians, the eponymous Asians rich and crazy, so the artists, revolutionaries, and workers preserved in Lee’s prints can feel as elusive as their author. No matter how distant an Asian American poor people’s movement may seem, his prints still vibrate with radical temporality and potential.