The ability for the individual to exist in the world without reference to categories or indexes of people types, others, or another, i.e. the object of one’s affection, is all but impossible. I am not interested in creating or exploring this psychology through the same linear constructions that the Hollywood system sets up and accomplishes. I am interested in the narrative quality of the situation, but I want to achieve it through a non-linear construction. The work is about creating a complex system that the viewer has to work through in order to understand the pathology of love and relationships with others and the self.
The complexity of relationship and love–internal, external, personal, and public–is an area that is ripe for exploration. The content of the image or sequence of images is important in the construction of this narrative, but what is implicit, explicit, and implied by that image is what is of interest. This along with the absurdity of the content opens up the possibility for multiple narratives. We are then left with the task of navigating and understanding the sign system that exists, but must realize that in this search we are only and always looking at the self with reference to the gaze of another, again presenting us with the problem of stereotype and cliché.
Monono Aware in Japanese directly translates to “(what a) pitiful thing!” which is a metaphor for “sensitivity toward a thing.” Zen Buddhists/practitioners critically examine and question through the physical, visual, and sentimental relationship with objects, living beings, and their surrounding environment to attain enlightenment that breaks through physical reality.
I am a ceramic sculptor who experiments with ceramic material and processes, technically and symbolically, incorporating multi-media environments (video, photographic images, glass, plastic, fabric, found objects, etc.).
My focus is to create individual objects as well as a complete environment: display space and re-defining empty space. My approach is to reintroduce/reconsider a simultaneously subtle and chaotic space. It’s “pop-baroque,” with familiar iconographic images from popular culture and its corresponding sub-culture that is considered to be “lo-culture.” My work examines the transformation of the combination of familiar iconographic (both 2-D and 3-D) images and designs into odd and unconventional looking objects that are a metaphor for the concept of capitalism in “corporate America.”
Humor and pleasure are very important elements in my work, just as capitalism and the entertainment industry go hand-in-hand; but unlike my work, their external images are funny “ha-ha,” internally funny-peculiar, ambiguous, and obscure, yet subjectively personal and essential. Although my work can look festive and joke-like, underneath the contexts are complex and serious: sensitive, Monono Aware. They are presented through layers of symbolism which present the fine dividing line between art and entertainment.
I am interested in making a connection between truth and fiction in my current body of work. I am particularly interested in appropriating the dualistic coupling in the following: First, how one’s perception of reality is affected by one’s emotional stance.
Second, how one can use fashion or “drag” as an outlet for defining one’s identity–through which fantasy can be carried out pragmatically in daily life.
One-Shots is a one-issue comic book about my own as well as friends’ life experiences, fears, and desires intermittent with events traumatic and mundane. Permeating with dissatisfaction, bitterness, doubt and anxiety, and at the same laden with hopeless romantic fervor, its visual narrative/storyboard is congruent with how much we live out what we feel in the moment.
Backyard Desert is a therapeutic comic book about my handicapped existence of living in an undesirable small town of Palmdale, California, with my mother. The tragic/bizarre turns to a kind of drag performance/confessional spectacle, as I make the most of the un-hip desert suburbia as a backdrop to off-play my fantasies of being an Amazonian super-sized heroine in a time warp co-existing with dinosaurs and white trash in the suburbs.
Shit and Hershey’s Kisses are “erotic” watercolors that are in actuality severe/perverse, and not sexy. The compromised/degraded position of the nude woman being fucked by a goat or standing naked dropping shit to feed the goat is disguised by the pale, amateurish style of painting reminiscent of illustration from a children’s book.
caress land that is flesh
penetrate flesh that is land
my hands trace
contours of land
these hands cut
edges of flesh
Scoping across bodies of land and flesh represented on flat surfaces of books, calendars and magazines, the viewer travels beyond the confines of an assigned body to explore an intimacy with these other “bodies” so often deemed external and foreign. The work’s visual apparatus reexamines landscape and body to propose emerging possibilities for interconnection through reciprocity and recognition beyond self to include other. Figures cut from landscapes create an interdependent and intertwining hybrid body image that flattens and merges background land and foreground flesh.
Every “made image” of a landscape conceals an inalienable trace of the projected figure of the maker. For an image of a landscape to exist, someone had to have photographed it; thus, representations of landscapes are never unmediated. My work explores the impulse to conquer and subjugate each other by recasting projections of personal self onto landscape to offer an renegotiated view cut from the outlines of an other.
Imagine a landscape, and then an airplane entering, penetrating it, does it disrupt our viewing pleasure? Or, does the landscape penetrate the airplane? If so, what would this look like?
Moi Tsien on Allan deSouza
Allan deSouza’s works often reveal the bodily gestures that lead to their production. Read, then, as performances or at least as the artifacts of performances, his works also incorporate materials from the performing body as evidence of its temporal nature, and also to comment on how his and other bodies are marked by history, geography and culture.
The two works here (both 2007) are the Scratch series, photographs of the disembodied tresses of various blonde icons that have epitomized white femininity (and whiteness itself), and whose haloed coifs have provoked inspiration and imitation, lust and envy, myth and mirth.
Here, the “dos,” like the backstage remnants following a drag show or a divine apparition visited upon a taco shell, are constructed from the artist’s fingernails and toenails against backdrops of his beard shavings.
The work Jesus Loves Me, Still (2007) continues deSouza’s ongoing series of animals and human figures made of tissue and semen (a material that as the artist ages might also indicate a fear of its lessening supply). The installation recalls a story about Jesus telling Peter the fisherman to follow him and to become instead a fisher of men. What faith-based musings do these figures prompt as they dangle helplessly from divine hooks cast by the Big Fisherman above, and what do they suggest about masculine creativity as their individual seas also look suspiciously like artist palettes? We may be adrift amongst a sea of men–apostates, atheists, heretics and sinners all–but Jesus apparently loves us. Still.
I did not intend the work to be funny or humorous at all. The outcome might be funny but I think “wry” is the word. Making the work comes from an ironic acceptance of icky, painful feelings about labeling, status, and value.
I started making the tiaras after finding an image of a conceptually creepy Native American-themed diamond tiara made by Cartier for an American socialite in the Gilded Age. And why, with so much poverty, are Filipinos obsessed with beauty pageants. And why faggots have so many derogatory names for each other–bean queen, rice queen, potato queen, etc.
The jockstraps are a continuing series that at first explored inherited craft techniques as well as personal and sexual narratives, but is now encompassing the history of thread around the world such as linen, hand-spun Indian cotton, rami, wisteria, and hemp. And–dye technologies such as indigo which once had a symbolic and functional use.
A collection of souvenirs–Chinatown backscratchers in this case–that becomes an overwhelming “remembrance” tied up in knots and a tangled mess that is both joyful and socially enmeshed.
Finally, toilet seat covers that make you wonder when your ass would be in contact with “the other” through that punctured window, and how that protective bubble would finally burst and make you more intimate with the unknown.
I make works that aspire to be unstable. Of questionable pedigree and dubious archival quality, they harbor fluctuating identities and a conspicuous self-destructive streak. My work is best described as process-intensive, high-relief drawing or low-relief sculpture. Existing between two and three dimensions, it faces regular crises of identity and occupies a vacillating in-between space informed by my immigrant Filipino-American background.
I use everyday materials and painstakingly gussy them up to “pass” as art. The works are fine mimics: Ivory Soap™ passes as ivory, erasers for smooth stones, wax or candy, packing tape for crystalline formations. Yet for all their aesthetic allure, they are inherently unstable. They pay homage to the horror of beauty, defined as the threat of its loss, and embrace contradictory impulses. Absurdly labor-intensive to create as art objects, they are encoded with the capacity to self-destruct almost instantaneously, to undo their identity as art by doing what they were originally meant to do (erasers to erase, soap to wash). Many works shift between drawing and sculpture, often compromising physical integrity in the process. Packing tape and erasers are methodically gutted, surgically cut up, cut out and put back together again; solid three-dimensional things turned into delicate line drawings.
I produce work very slowly. Everything is made by hand: very physical, very analog. I work this way in part as a response to the mind-boggling pace and information overload that characterizes everyday life. In a digital age where anything seems possible, my work is mindful of the body – its limitations, imperfections and idiosyncrasies. Part meditation on built-in obsolescence, part concession to the indefatigable forces of entropy, my work alludes to the fragility of the body and serves as a metaphor for the mutable, unstable nature of identity.
Pearl C. Hsiung
My work investigates the capabilities and limits of graphic, hard-edged visual vocabulary as made familiar via cartoons, design and media in addressing the intangible, the ever-changing, the awesome and other concepts characteristic of becoming. At times, concepts that are elusive to human comprehension and perception begin to be represented in my work as landscapes containing volcanoes, crystals, clouds, rocks and other natural subjects eligible for meditation and contemplation. However, these forms and their meanings reside outside a familiar space when, in my work, they exist in a contemporary context, as if they are subjects in and of contemporary culture. They spurt lips, hair, human decoration. They absorb surrounding, remote content and commingle with otherwhere information. I am interested in the utilization of familiar iconography and imagery, as well as the shared visual vocabulary and style of the ubiquitous graphic lexicon of contemporary, globalized culture in addressing the continuity between the artistic, human endeavor of pursuing personal “peace,” the post-capitalistic, detached project of offering something “new” (what’s-in-it-for-me), and that which is beyond our perceivable contemporality.
Although, the work strives for “profound” moments and accomplishments of representation, I am also interested in the absurdity of the artistic and human goal of achieving such enlightenment, breakthrough or nirvana. By engaging in humorous, promiscuous, random and repulsive strategies in the art making, the work attempts to offset and decenter over-specified meaning(s) and idealistic goals, disseminating the centers of power and finality that paralyze ideas from continually evolving, transmogrification and participation in perpetual becoming.
Yong Soon Min on Byoung Ok Koh
Byoung Ok Koh is known for his wry and witty sculptures that playfully scrutinize familiar objects and materials. These works deploy basic sculptural properties of scale and gravity in unexpected and uncanny proportions, juxtapositions and compositions to de-familiarize and re-orient viewers’ expectations. His Roller Coaster for Snail consists of a room-sized model of a roller coaster in which the elaborate web of supports is traversed by a snail. The figure of speech, ‘a snail’s pace’ is inevitably conjured in the absurdly amusing juxtaposition of the two ‘sculptural’ entities. Unadorned and seemingly matter-of-fact like their plainspoken titles, Hair Fly and Toothbrush employ deft, subtle modifications of the original objects to generate a disproportionate effect on the viewer. In David Pagel’s review of one of Koh’s solo exhibitions, the artist is commended for “paying attention to seemingly incidental details…that even after you figure out what you’re looking at, your interest doesn’t diminish.” LA Times writer Christopher Knight comments that “Koh’s interests have the thoughtful flavor of Conceptual work by the late Felix Gonzales-Torres, although the young artist employs more distinctly sculptural means.” Noted for their “graceful ephemerality” and “gentle trickery” (Pagel), Koh’s sculptures enliven the everyday and the mundane with captivating insights.
Javier Peres on Terence Koh
“Once he (Koh) finished his works for Zurich, Terence did 2 performances, one public, very much public as you know– Sprungkopf, and another one that was very much private, so private only I (Javier Peres) saw it and documented it....the resulting works are a video and a photo, both by the same title, 4’ 26” which alludes to the length of the performance itself....in it, Terence again conceals his face/identity, but exposes his tight, fit body to utter exhaustion as he was wearing very high prostitute/tranny style patent leather, knee high heels, which he slit open (like a Fontana) so as to dramatize their effect when he moved...the resulting work is at once gorgeous, and repugnant, stylized and ad hoc, but what comes through the most is his amazing ability to transform himself into a sculptural object, yet still infused with desire and want...”
kozyndan is a Los Angeles-based team of artist/illustrators known for their digitally painted pencil drawings of contemporary urban cityscapes and surreal interior spaces. Comprised of husband and wife Dan and Kozue Kitchens, kozyndan creates both fine art and commercial projects, and has been showcased internationally to much critical acclaim.
The duo met in a painting class in college in the late 1990s. They began collaborating, and the result has been a series of personal works that often reflect their affection–and repulsion–for the rampant urban sprawl and technological overload that characterize everyday city life. Their detailed drawings portray realistic urban panoramas, which on closer inspection reveal often absurd scenarios. In one, for example, elderly Chinese women, armed only with dim-sum, stave off an aerial attack on San Francisco’s Chinatown, while in another, marauding day-glo bunnies take on Manhattan. According to Dan, the pair’s work portrays their “unease with and love of the modern world.”
Koznydan’s other work includes album covers for Weezer, John Mayer, Daedelus, Lyrics Born, and the Postal Service, as well as magazine illustrations for Colors, Tokion, Relax, Giant Robot, XLR8R, among others. They have also done commercial projects for RES Fest, Electronic Arts, Converse, Nike, Wieden+Kennedy and Idn, and they have produced an array of products featuring their artwork, including posters, books (their first, Urban Myths, was recently published by early supporters Giant Robot) and t-shirts. The couple has also exhibited work in galleries and museums from Los Angeles to Toronto, London, and Australia.
Dinh Q. Lź
Moira Roth, excerpt from “Obdurate History: Dinh Q. Lź, the Vietnam War, Photography, and Memory” Art Journal (Summer 2001)
In an email to me dated December 13, 1999, Le describes Lotus Land. “The piece is about the birth defects in Vietnam as a result of the chemical defoliant (Agent Orange) used by the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. One of the effects has been a tremendous increase in Siamese twins born in Vietnam. ... Most of the twins do not survive due to limited expertise and facilities here. I have found that in some villages where the children are born, they are starting to worship them. The villagers believe that the children are special spirits. ... What is fascinating to me is that some Vietnamese deities also have multiple arms, legs, and heads. The piece grows out of my fascination with the idea of collapsing distance between mythology and reality.”
Chanika Svetvilas’s article on Le, “The Art of War,” [Dialogue (Spring-Summer 1999): 27-28] contains Le’s account of Damaged Gene, a public project created in Ho Chi Minh City in August 1998: “I rented a kiosk in the open market and sold handmade clothing for conjoined twins. The clothes were embroidered with names of companies that produced Agent Orange....I also sold Siamese twin figurines and T-shirts printed with statistics about the use of Agent Orange and the damaging genetic effect it has had in Vietnam. The project is a big departure for me....Culturally I was bringing a taboo subject and putting it right in the middle of the market for one month. It was the scariest opening I have ever held. My kiosk no longer exists, but I am planning to raise money to open a permanent shop. This time I hope to have international artists’ participation in designing T-shirts and creating objects for the shop. The profits will be donated to medical facilities that treat children suffering from dioxin.”
Located at the site of psychological conflict, my work focuses on the blurry and ever changing boundaries between longing and disturbance. Intertwining archetypal myths and colonial histories with personal narratives, the confessional takes on a mythic tone while the fairy tale closes in with odd familiarity. My work often borrows a formal style or even adapts specific imagery from such historical sources as the 16th century engravings from the Discovery of America travelogue by Theodore de Bry or the Casta Paintings of 17th-18th century New Spain. Utilizing strategies of potential secret-telling and ornate, intimate details, I lure viewers in, inviting them to come closer and deeper, until they recognize, within the world they have entered, a visualization of their own hidden desires, beliefs, and memories. This intermeshing of personal myths with cultural ones forms a mimetic and miniature world which, in a manner similar to voodoo, needles into the larger social body, the physical world...infecting, enriching, and sharing the blood. This gesture positions the created world as simultaneously fantastic and hauntingly realistic.
With bunny hugs and bunny hops,
Kiss the canvas
Spiked by a one-two punch!
Mine the myths that lace the cultural gumbo
Of these Multi-States of Mind!
The perpetually deferred promise of consumer bliss haunts our dreams
To be loved and lovable.
Ball humping and bible thumping,
Transfixed before the one-eyed monster,
We shoot ourselves to entertain our media messengers
Serviced by remote corporate control.
Searching for our real selves
By searching the shelves
Lined with supersized and spring scents,
Low-fat slingbacks that come in your choice
Of midnight berry and supermoist cherry.
Deploying surface to air lip gloss,
Nursing the loss of assorted body parts
As frosted Pop Tarts rain from the sky.
Looking underneath yellow fevered dreams
To pick at “Made in China” labels
That won’t rub off.
My work strives to articulate those instances in which explicit distinctions known to us through science, art and culture blur and fade into one another. A hybrid space that is informed by my personal and trans-cultural experience. From the desire to escape an essentialized identification with my Indian-ness (cultural origins) to the embrace of a nomadic and contaminated sense of post-colonial identity, I have sought to find a voice that is authentic, innovative and poetic.
For the past several years, I have been making drawings, installations and abstract paintings in which the tension between pictorial and sculptural space not only underscores the viewer’s physical presence but also activates the entire space in which both the artwork and viewer exist.
Historically, a multiplicity of references are brought together–the Baroque, Pop Art, Minimalism, spiritual abstraction, Indian miniature paintings, illuminated manuscripts, classical figurative sculpture–to explore phenomenological relations between light and space, figure and ground. From the earlier self portraits to the more recent abstractions, my interest remains in making the hybrid object–part painting, part drawing, part sculpture and part environment.
My intention in making work that negotiates a wide range of cultures, genres and media is philosophically driven. Emphasizing materiality and exactitude, while also being perceptually mutable and incorporeal, the fusion aspires to become a conduit to another dimension of experience where the personal meets the epic. Where the possibilities are many and ultimately open ended for the viewers to inscribe for themselves.
In this exhibition, I present three sculptural works: Thinking Rock, Love Buttons and SOB. Thinking Rock is a sculpted rock with an aluminum thought bubble on top. The two LED signs on the thought bubble carry messages that tell the story of the rock. Stories are written and uploaded electronically into the LED by a computer and can be altered to suit a specific location. I also invite writers to contribute their own stories to Thinking Rock.
Love Buttons is a sound sculpture installation consisting of hundreds of buttons hanging on walls in four rows at eye level. Suspended from the ceiling are ten thought bubbles. Embedded in each of the thought bubbles is a CD walkman that plays thousands of different epithets recorded using a computer voice. Buttons emblazoned with the same epithets are free for the public to take. Each epithet begins with, “Honey, tonight I will fuck you as…” Love Buttons is about love and swappable identities.
Love-in-the-Make and Sixty-Nine, two life-size sculptures made out of sheet metal and automotive paint, are both part of the SOB (Sex, Orgy and Beyond) series. The SOB works playfully take on the play of power through sexual intercourse. The use of the symbolic two-headed-dildo-with-condoms-on is a way to represent the vulnerability of all involved in sex. In addition, it also shows that sex is not about one person having power over the other but an intricate balance of both sides in the process. We can think of these works as continuing the tradition of art depicting sex and romance from antique Greek vases to Indian temple sculptures, from Auguste Rodin’s The Kiss, Constantin Brancusi’s work of the same title, to other contemporary artists such as Ed Kienholz’s Back Seat Dodge ’38.
We are living in an environment where we are surrounded by all kinds of objects, and these objects often become second nature to us and soon we begin to care less about them. In that sense, objects exist just like the environmental noise that we are no longer sensitive to. John Cage and his friends have argued that even irritating ordinary noise can be valuable, like chamber music with its own will. Their argument recommends putting existing sounds on the same table and proposes that there is an anti-hierarchical sentiment within every sound in the world.
I think I am recomposing objects as “noise” for my environment by using common painter’s materials. I’m interested in these objects I see that at first irritate, then are ignored. I remember and reformat them by using the painter’s vocabulary. Thus, ideally my objects may be placed in any condition at any place without identification that labels the objects as art. Hopefully, my works transcend the chaotic aspect in our ambience as does environmental noise.
Tears of a Clown
I have been actively creating new works in multimedia (photography, installation, computer generated imaging and animation, digital video, and performance) since 1990, and continue to produce works that incorporate the personal psychological/perceptual experience and the objective/tangible/urban landscape. The focus of many of my works is on the relationships of superimposed ideas/concepts on innate feelings/beliefs that guide the viewers gaze (both outwardly and inwardly). This multimedia approach to addressing issues of subjectivity is intended to bring the viewer into contact with his/her own sense of empathy with the environment and situation of others/self.
I am contributing two video
installations for this show: The Tears That is My Body (1993-2007)
and Malambing Thang (2007). Malambing Thang is a
collaboration with artist/musician/composer William Roper. Roper–operating within and across
disciplines–deals with the peculiar history of Africans in America, the
integration of religion and myth in modern life, and issues of an individual’s
self-defined location within society.
His work is multilayered, allowing access from and interpretation on many
Alice Konitz on Anna Sew Hoy, written on the occasion of the show Nothing up the Sleeve (September 2006), curated by Samara Caughey, at the Glendale College Art Gallery
Like most physically seductive things, Anna’s sculptures are full of blobs, knots, holes, pedestals, bundles, legs and tunnels. These are combined with events, friends who drink hundreds of cans of Sapporo, dainty little chains, perfume, trees, feathers, stickers, and contrived Dali-articles. And then there are some words, like the word ‘Blacknoir,’ which takes a certain kind of shape, color and material that is different from ‘black’ and different from ‘noir’ as well.
Acid-wash jeans woven through a ceramic structure and raised off the floor about three feet high with steel pipe. It takes place “in an era when I wore acid-wash jeans and liked iridescent things: mid-to-late 80s in southern California.” With this I’m given location and time in addition to materials and height. Maybe there is a moment of recollection of the specified time and place, or a fake memory of a moment that never happened in the 80s but is constructed in 2006 and grafted into a time that seems to support these materials. The memory seems as much personal as it could be collective, accessible to most who were teenagers in California in the late eighties and probably, by association, to a much wider circle.
I’m given the information about time and place with the statement: “I don’t know if you need to know this.” I can relate. I never know how much additional or personal information I would want to know or would give to anyone because the information might obstruct the complex information that is there to understand from what is seen or given with the work.
I believe that humans are the most beautiful creatures that exist in nature. Humans can be distinguished from animals because we have been given a thought process that often creates illusions about how we perceive the world around us. When humans use one of their senses, signals are sent to the brain; the brain then associates the sense with an experience that occurred in the past or the present which causes us to feel a certain way emotionally.
In one day, the human mind is constantly thinking and constantly dispersing many types of feelings. Moreover, humans tend to create more negative feelings than positive ones. Most of the time, our own suffering stems from the worries concerning the unknown future. And, throughout our lives we also experience lots of mixed emotions that cause us to worry more than we really should and all this worrying can lead us into depression.
We believe that material possessions such as cars, computers, televisions, radios, and telephones can truly make us happy, but we are often wrong. These things only make us happy for a short period of time. The more machines and products are developed for our pleasure and convenience, the more our minds sink into a pit of suffering because we allow these things to control us.
We don’t really know how the human mind works, nor do we know how to control our own minds. We allow ourselves to accept whatever feelings we have at a given moment without questioning it; this can be disastrous to our lives. Perhaps, if we learn how to control our minds, we can live happier lives. And, if humans can keep their emotions at a medium rate (not too emotionally high or low), they can function better on many levels.