Maegan Houang’s ‘Mǎlì-lián Monroe’

Mǎli-Lián Monroe is a 2019 series by photographer Maegan Houang, recasting iconic heroines like Marilyn, Jackie Kennedy, Scarlett O’Hara and Calamity Jane. This set is, of course, inspired by the ‘subway scene’ from The Seven Year Itch, modelled here by Lisa Maley with makeup by Kelly Park. (I’m reminded of previous recreations by artists Linda Vallejo and Shelley Niro.)

“‘Mǎlì-lián Monroe’ reconceptualizes iconic white American women as an Asian-American woman wearing traditional Chinese Opera makeup. This photo series explores the masks and costumes Asian-American women wear to balance our own ethnic identities with Eurocentric beauty standards. The photographs oscillate between beautiful and grotesque; honest and theatrical; eye-opening, yet bewildering. As a biracial Asian-American woman, I like many, constantly ponder the in-between.”