ARTIST STATEMENT ABOUT
I certainly hope that the works in my Eye-con
series have a good deal of aesthetic, sensual, and visceral appeal, and it was a pleasure
on all of those levels to plan and produce them. However, I also think of them on an intellectual
level, that is, I also see these works in cultural terms, and more specifically, as my commentary
on the ever-shifting constellation of icons that form idealized Western conceptions of Asian-ness.
While the color red, for instance, is indeed a somewhat prominent presence in some Asian
settings, Westerners often overemphasize it in their ideas of what Asia is like; they often
do the same with other supposed aspects of Asian peoples lives. Because the color
red is so quick to leap into iconic status for the Western mind in its conceptions of exotic
Asian-ness are Chinese restaurants largely responsible for this?
the rather overwhelming redness of these pieces symbolizes for me other false (yet standardized)
facets of the Orientalist mindset. Viewers will make whatever they will of these
paintings, of course. But when they want to listen to my explanation of how I see them,
I say that theyre all a part of my ongoing effort as a woman who came here from Korea
to explain that Oriental isnt the right word for anybody anymore, thank
you, and that I never actually thought of myself as Asian until I came here,
and that now I am, in more accurate terms, a Korean American (and one who also really appreciates
it when people take the time to learn how to properly pronounce my name). So, about that
color, red. I want it to predominate in this series so fully that it obscures perception
of potential imagery landscaped, mountainous scenery, sunsets, birds (or are they
eyes?), townscapes, and so on. I want to suggest, then, that when the inner Western eye
turns to the East (which, when you think about it, is actually to the West of
America), it can be conned into a certain blindness if it has not unlearned that which it
likes to think it knows.
The series, "Interpellation," continues the fingerprint motif of Distemporal
Deliverance of a Sentence; the episode of giving my prints to the authorities here when
I became a citizen still haunts me. Every fingerprint is unique, yet our prints attest
to our "citizenship," our membership in a community of supposedly similar people.
Authority has also attached tense, anxiety-inducing associations to the act of pressing
our fingers and thumbs to a surface. We extend our outstretched hands and they are grasped
by other hands, which take from us the marks of our selves.
ABOUT • RESUME