“Adoption: Palimpsest of Identity” Art Exhibit

From the facebook invitation to the event! This looks amazing – when ya’ll coming to SF?

“The Korean Cultural Service NY co-present the exhibition “Adoption: Palimpsest of Identity” with the AHL Foundation, Inc. from August 27th to September 24th, which features the works of six artists: Kate Hers, Jane Jin Kaisen, Mihee-Nathalie Lemoine, Jette Hye Jin Mortensen, Kim Su Theiler, and Maya Weimer. This exhibition is curated by Jeehey Kim. Exhibition goes through -Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 7:00pm
Through video installation and photomontage, the six artists deal with the identity of the adoptee, an identity that is barely discussed in identity politics. The artists demonstrate how the issue of adoption disrupts and disturbs the existing circuits of enunciation of one’s identity. As a palimpsest shows both the overwriting text and the overwritten one beneath at once, the works in this exhibition reveal how one dimension, one nation, one dream, and one world bumps into another. Positing identity as hybrid and fluid, their works transform and challenge the established and fixed order of things.

Collage works of kate hers interrogate the construction of ethnic and cultural narratives in landscape and analyze the mythological power of the Other while engaging tropes of appropriation, allegory, and conceptualism. She is not just interested in a crude depiction or reduction of anti-colonial anti-sexist viewpoints, but rather the questioning and engaging of the complex and layered meanings of appropriation, colonialism and gendered narratives in a global art context. In the re-inscribing of narrative through phantom landscapes, she desires a re-contextualization of meaning through its original form, however she is uncertain whether it is feasible to resist contributing to the spectacle of cultural colonialism. Is it possible to destabilize and disrupt something in which one is an active participant?

In her video work “disadoption”, Mihee-Nathalie Lemoin’s sings a song “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” with transforming its lyrics into the following: avouerai-je, dis papa/ ce qui cause mon tracas/ tu me dis que mon agence/ d’adoption point ne vous ment/ par la rumeur surprenante que tu dis preoccupante: de deux familles appartenantes/ par le bon sens tu me commandes/ L’annulation de l’adoption/ que cela est ta solution/ a vous disais-je papa/ omma-deul-appa-deul isseulka ? (to tell you, dad/ what is my worry/ you tell em my adoption/ agency is not lying/ by the surprising rumor/ of two families I belong/ by the common sense you order me/ to cancel the adoption/ it’s your solution/ to you, i was telling, daddy/ oma-deul (mothers) appa-deul (fathers) isseulkka (will be)?

Jette Hye Jin Mortensen often focuses on and debate adoption, family, nationalism, stereotypes, racism, and how we construct our identity from these structures through her videos and video-installation. In her video “My Great Grandfather,” she talks about the Danish composer Carl Nielsen as her great grandfather in a split screen with interview and archival footage. In this mockumentary she writes herself as the Danish person “of color” into the national history to mirror cultural complexity. It caused a lot of e-mails and letters with the questions: “Is Carl Nielsen your real, biological great grandfather? “Are you adopted into the Nielsen family?”

In Kim Su Theiler’s work “Hair Watch,” a Korean woman with a short haircut is seen in time lapse over many days. An off screen dialogue reveals that the woman’s hair length starts with the picture the adopted parents used to choose the child, and the end length of hair is the picture of the child taken for her passport so she could be transported to the United States to her new family. An off screen voice asks,” How long were you in the orphanage?” Subject answers,” For as long as it took for my hair to grow from the first picture to the passport picture.”

Maya Weimer’s groundbreaking video installation, “Untitled (K.H., S.H., H.S.),” gives voice to an important, but invisible, side of the adoption industry. Potential interviewees jeopardized their jobs and family statuses by coming forth to discuss their secret experiences and only with the promise of complete anonymity would a handful of women eventually agree to participate. The three women’s voices presented in this installation are in their mid-20s, -30s, and -40s. The formal constraints established in order to realize this project prevented the possibility of producing a traditional documentary. Rather than reinscribing onto these women narratives of victimization, the artist’s intention has been to highlight their resilience within a patriarchal Confucian culture.
Jane Jin Kaisen’s video work “Tracing Trades” chases and traces the history of human trade and trafficking between Korea and Europe, starting with the investigation of the history behind the mysterious “Korean Man” by Peter Paul Rubens. Shedding light upon Korean-European relations, and particularly international adoption, the quest leads to 19th century emigration of Scandinavians to North America, especially to the state of Minnesota. A department of Alien Affairs starts investigating how the first East Asians came to Scandinavia. In their search, Denmark’s prime tourist attraction, “Tivoli” keeps appearing in historical documents. Following these trades, they begin to look for traces that could help explain Scandinavia’s colonial history, repression, and worship of certain exotic elements.”

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