Issue 35 February 2024

Issue 34 November 2023

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Issue 32 June 2023

Issue 31 February 2023

Issue 30 November 2022

Issue 29 August 2022

Issue 28 May 2022

Issue 27 February 2022

Issue 26 November 2021

Issue 25 August 2021

Issue 24 May 2021

Issue 23 February 2021

Issue 22 November 2020

Issue 21 August 2020

Issue 20 May 2020

Issue 19 February 2020

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
Parasites in Love –Travis Diehl
To Crush Absolute On Patrick Staff and
Destroying the Institution
–Jonathan Griffin
Victoria Fu:
Camera Obscured
–Cat Kron
Resurgence of Resistance How Pattern & Decoration's Popularity
Can Help Reshape the Canon
–Catherine Wagley
Trace, Place, Politics Julie Mehretu's Coded Abstractions
–Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.: Featuring: Friedrich Kunath,
Tristan Unrau, and Nevine Mahmoud
–Claressinka Anderson & Joe Pugliese
Reviews April Street
at Vielmetter Los Angeles
–Aaron Horst

Chiraag Bhakta
at Human Resources
–Julie Weitz

Don’t Think: Tom, Joe
and Rick Potts

–Matt Stromberg

Sarah McMenimen
at Garden
–Michael Wright

The Medea Insurrection
at the Wende Museum
–Jennifer Remenchik

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Mike Kelley
at Hauser & Wirth
–Angella d’Avignon
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Issue 18 November 2019

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
The Briar and the Tar Nayland Blake at the ICA LA
and Matthew Marks Gallery
–Travis Diehl
Putting Aesthetics
to Hope
Tracking Photography’s Role
in Feminist Communities
– Catherine Wagley
Instagram STARtists
and Bad Painting
– Anna Elise Johnson
Interview with Jamillah James – Lindsay Preston Zappas
Working Artists Featuring Catherine Fairbanks,
Paul Pescador, and Rachel Mason
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Children of the Sun
– Jessica Simmons

Derek Paul Jack Boyle
–Aaron Horst

Karl Holmqvist
at House of Gaga, Los Angeles
–Lee Purvey

Katja Seib
at Château Shatto
–Ashton Cooper

Jeanette Mundt
at Overduin & Co.
–Matt Stromberg
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Issue 17 August 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Green Chip David Hammons
at Hauser & Wirth
–Travis Diehl
Whatever Gets You
Through the Night
The Artists of Dilexi
and Wartime Trauma
–Jonathan Griffin
Generous Collectors How the Grinsteins
Supported Artists
–Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Donna Huanca
–Lindsy Preston Zappas
Working Artist Featuring Ragen Moss, Justen LeRoy,
and Bari Ziperstein
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Sarah Lucas
at the Hammer Museum
–Yxta Maya Murray

George Herms and Terence Koh
at Morán Morán
–Matt Stromberg

Hannah Hur
at Bel Ami
–Michael Wright

Sebastian Hernandez
–Julie Weitz

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Alex Israel
at Greene Naftali
–Rosa Tyhurst

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Issue 16 May 2019

Trulee Hall's Untamed Magic Catherine Wagley
Ingredients for a Braver Art Scene Ceci Moss
I Shit on Your Graves Travis Diehl
Interview with Ruby Neri Jonathan Griffin
Carolee Schneemann and the Art of Saying Yes! Chelsea Beck
Exquisite L.A. Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Ry Rocklen
at Honor Fraser
–Cat Kron

Rob Thom
at M+B
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age
of Black Power, 1963-1983
at The Broad
–Matt Stromberg

Anna Sew Hoy & Diedrick Brackens
at Various Small Fires
–Aaron Horst

Julia Haft-Candell & Suzan Frecon
at Parrasch Heijnen
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Shahryar Nashat
at Swiss Institute
–Christie Hayden
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Issue 15 February 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor
Men on Women
Geena Brown
Eyes Without a Voice
Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto
Christina Catherine Martinez
Seven Minute Dream Machine
Jordan Wolfson's (Female figure)
Travis Diehl
Laughing in Private
Vanessa Place's Rape Jokes
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Rosha Yaghmai
Laura Brown
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Patrick Martinez,
Ramiro Gomez, and John Valadez
Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Outliers and American
Vanguard Art at LACMA
–Jonathan Griffin

Sperm Cult
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
–Jessica Simmons

Ingrid Luche
at Ghebaly Gallery
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Matt Paweski
at Park View / Paul Soto
–John Zane Zappas

Trenton Doyle Hancock
at Shulamit Nazarian
–Colony Little

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Catherine Opie
at Lehmann Maupin
–Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 14 November 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer and Figurative Religion Catherine Wagley
Lynch in Traffic Travis Diehl
The Remixed Symbology of Nina Chanel Abney Lindsay Preston Zappas
Interview with Kulapat Yantrasast Christie Hayden
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Sandra de la Loza, Gloria Galvez, and Steve Wong
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews Raúl de Nieves
at Freedman Fitzpatrick
-Aaron Horst

Gertrud Parker
at Parker Gallery
-Ashton Cooper

Robert Yarber
at Nicodim Gallery
-Jonathan Griffin

Nikita Gale
at Commonwealth & Council
-Simone Krug

Lari Pittman
at Regen Projects
-Matt Stromberg

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Eckhaus Latta
at the Whitney Museum
of American Art
-Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 13 August 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor Julie Weitz with Angella d'Avignon
Don't Make
Everything Boring
Catherine Wagley
The Collaborative Art
World of Norm Laich
Matt Stromberg
Oddly Satisfying Art Travis Diehl
Made in L.A. 2018 Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj
Jennifer Remenchik
Aaron Horst
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Anna Sew Hoy, Guadalupe Rosales, and Shizu Saldamando
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews It's Snowing in LA
at AA|LA
–Matthew Lax

Fiona Conner
at the MAK Center
–Thomas Duncan

Show 2
at The Gallery @ Michael's
–Simone Krug

Deborah Roberts
at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
–Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi

Mimi Lauter
at Blum & Poe
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Math Bass
at Mary Boone
–Ashton Cooper

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Condo New York
–Laura Brown
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Issue 12 May 2018

Poetic Energies and
Radical Celebrations:
Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger
Simone Krug
Interior States of the Art Travis Diehl
Perennial Bloom:
Florals in Feminism
and Across L.A.
Angella d'Avignon
The Mess We're In Catherine Wagley
Interview with Christina Quarles Ashton Cooper
Object Project
Featuring Suné Woods, Michelle Dizon,
and Yong Soon Min
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Meleko Mokgosi
at The Fowler Museum at UCLA
-Jessica Simmons

Chris Kraus
at Chateau Shatto
- Aaron Horst

Ben Sanders
at Ochi Projects
- Matt Stromberg

iris yirei hsu
at the Women's Center
for Creative Work
- Hana Cohn

Harald Szeemann
at the Getty Research Institute
- Olivian Cha

Ali Prosch
at Bed and Breakfast
- Jennifer Remenchik

Reena Spaulings
at Matthew Marks
- Thomas Duncan
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Issue 11 February 2018

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Museum as Selfie Station Matt Stromberg
Accessible as Humanly as Possible Catherine Wagley
On Laura Owens on Laura Owens Travis Diehl
Interview with Puppies Puppies Jonathan Griffin
Object Project Lindsay Preston Zappas, Jeff McLane
Reviews Dulce Dientes
at Rainbow in Spanish
- Aaron Horst

Adrián Villas Rojas
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
- Lindsay Preston Zappas

Nevine Mahmoud
at M+B
- Angella D'Avignon

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960- 1985
at the Hammer Museum
- Thomas Duncan

Hannah Greely and William T. Wiley
at Parker Gallery
- Keith J. Varadi

David Hockney
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (L.A. in N.Y.)
- Ashton Cooper

Edgar Arceneaux
at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (L.A. in S.F.)
- Hana Cohn
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Issue 10 November 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Barely Living with Art:
The Labor of Domestic
Spaces in Los Angeles
Eli Diner
She Wanted Adventure:
Dwan, Butler, Mizuno, Copley
Catherine Wagley
The Languages of
All-Women Exhibitions
Lindsay Preston Zappas
L.A. Povera Travis Diehl
On Eclipses:
When Language
and Photography Fail
Jessica Simmons
Interview with
Hamza Walker
Julie Wietz
Object Project
Featuring: Rosha Yaghmai,
Dianna Molzan, and Patrick Jackson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McLane
Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
Regen Projects
Ibid Gallery
One National Gay & Lesbian Archives and MOCA PDC
The Mistake Room
Luis De Jesus Gallery
the University Art Gallery at CSULB
the Autry Museum
Reviews Cheyenne Julien
at Smart Objects

Paul Mpagi Sepuya
at team bungalow

Ravi Jackson
at Richard Telles

Tactility of Line
at Elevator Mondays

Trigger: Gender as a Tool as a Weapon
at the New Museum
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 9 August 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women on the Plinth Catherine Wagley
Us & Them, Now & Then:
Reconstituting Group Material
Travis Diehl
The Offerings of EJ Hill
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Interview with Jenni Sorkin Carmen Winant
Object Project
Featuring: Rebecca Morris,
Linda Stark, Alex Olson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McClane
Reviews Mark Bradford
at the Venice Biennale

Broken Language
at Shulamit Nazarian

Artists of Color
at the Underground Museum

Anthony Lepore & Michael Henry Hayden
at Del Vaz Projects


Analia Saban at
Sprueth Magers
Letter to the Editor Lady Parts, Lady Arts
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Issue 8 May 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kanye Westworld Travis Diehl
@richardhawkins01 Thomas Duncan
Support Structures:
Alice Könitz and LAMOA
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Penny Slinger
Eliza Swann
Exquisite L.A.
taisha paggett
Ashley Hunt
Young Chung
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Alessandro Pessoli
at Marc Foxx

Jennie Jieun Lee
at The Pit

Trisha Baga
at 356 Mission

Jimmie Durham
at The Hammer

Parallel City
at Ms. Barbers

Jason Rhodes
at Hauser & Wirth
Letter to the Editor
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Issue 7 February 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Catherine Wagley
Put on a Happy Face:
On Dynasty Handbag
Travis Diehl
The Limits of Animality:
Simone Forti at ISCP
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
More Wound Than Ruin:
Evaluating the
"Human Condition"
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Brenna Youngblood
Todd Gray
Rafa Esparza
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Creature
at The Broad

Sam Pulitzer & Peter Wachtler
at House of Gaga // Reena Spaulings Fine Art

Karl Haendel
at Susanne Vielmetter

Wolfgang Tillmans
at Regen Projects

at Chateau Shatto

The Rat Bastard Protective Association
at the Landing
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Issue 6 November 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kenneth Tam
's Basement
Travis Diehl
The Female
Cool School
Catherine Wagley
The Rise
of the L.A.
Art Witch
Amanda Yates Garcia
Interview with
Mernet Larsen
Julie Weitz
Agnes Martin
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Made in L.A. 2016
at The Hammer Museum

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

at Tif Sigfrids

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
at Kayne Griffin Corcoran

Mark A. Rodruigez
at Park View

The Weeping Line
Organized by Alter Space
at Four Six One Nine
(S.F. in L.A.)
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Issue 5 August 2016

Letter form the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Exquisite L.A.
Fay Ray
John Baldessari
Claire Kennedy
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Revolution in the Making
at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Carl Cheng
at Cherry and Martin

Joan Snyder
at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery

Elanor Antin
at Diane Rosenstein

Performing the Grid
at Ben Maltz Gallery
at Otis College of Art & Design

Laura Owens
at The Wattis Institute
(L.A. in S.F.)
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Issue 4 May 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater:
Diana Thater
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews L.A. Art Fairs

Material Art Fair, Mexico City

Rain Room

Evan Holloway
at David Kordansky Gallery

Histories of a Vanishing Present: A Prologue
at The Mistake Room

Carter Mull
at fused space
(L.A. in S.F.)

Awol Erizku
at FLAG Art Foundation
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 3 February 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word:
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota:
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Share Your Piece
of the Puzzle
Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Honeydew
at Michael Thibault

Fred Tomaselli
at California State University, Fullerton

Trisha Donnelly
at Matthew Marks Gallery

Bradford Kessler
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Issue 2 November 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
Molly Larkey
Anna Breininger and Kate Whitlock
Americanicity's Paintings:
Orion Martin
at Favorite Goods
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Layers of Leimert Park Catherine Wagley
Junkspace Junk Food:
Parker Ito
at Kaldi, Smart Objects,
White Cube, and
Château Shatto
Evan Moffitt
Melrose Hustle Keith Vaughn
Max Maslansky Photographs
Monica Majoli
at the Tom of Finland Foundation
White Lee, Black Lee:
William Pope.L’s "Reenactor"
Travis Diehl
Dora Budor Interview Char Jensen
Reviews Mary Ried Kelley
at The Hammer Museum

Tongues Untied
at MOCA Pacific Design Center

No Joke
at Tanya Leighton
(L.A. in Berlin)
Snap Reviews Martin Basher at Anat Ebgi
Body Parts I-V at ASHES ASHES
Eve Fowler at Mier Gallery
Matt Siegle at Park View
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Issue 1 August 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Metaphysical L.A.
Travis Diehl
Art for Art’s Sake:
L.A. in the 1990s
Anthony Pearson
A Dialogue in Two
Synchronous Atmospheres
Erik Morse
with Alexandra Grant
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
Mateo Tannatt
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Pierre Huyghe

Mernet Larsen
at Various Small Fires

John Currin
at Gagosian, Beverly Hills

Pat O'Niell
at Cherry and Martin

A New Rhythm
at Park View

Unwatchable Scenes and
Other Unreliable Images...
at Public Fiction

Charles Gaines
at The Hammer Museum

Henry Taylor
at Blum & Poe/ Untitled
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
1301 PE
Anat Ebgi (La Cienega)
Anat Ebgi (Wilshire)
Arcana Books
Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth
Babst Gallery
Baert Gallery
Bel Ami
Canary Test
Carlye Packer
Charlie James Gallery
Château Shatto
Chris Sharp Gallery
Cirrus Gallery
Clay ca
Commonwealth & Council
Craft Contemporary
D2 Art (Inglewood)
D2 Art (Westwood)
David Kordansky Gallery
David Zwirner
Diane Rosenstein
François Ghebaly
Gana Art Los Angeles
George Billis Gallery
Giovanni's Room
Hamzianpour & Kia
Hannah Hoffman Gallery
Harper's Gallery
Hashimoto Contemporary
Heavy Manners Library
Helen J Gallery
Human Resources
Hunter Shaw Fine Art
in lieu
LaPau Gallery
Lisson Gallery
Lowell Ryan Projects
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
MAK Center for Art and Architecture
Make Room Los Angeles
Matter Studio Gallery
Matthew Brown Los Angeles
MOCA Grand Avenue
Monte Vista Projects
Morán Morán
Moskowitz Bayse
Nazarian / Curcio
Night Gallery
Nino Mier Gallery
NOON Projects
O-Town House
One Trick Pony
Paradise Framing
Park View / Paul Soto
Patricia Sweetow Gallery
Regen Projects
Reparations Club
r d f a
REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater)
Roberts Projects
Royale Projects
Sean Kelly
Sebastian Gladstone
Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Smart Objects
Steve Turner
Stroll Garden
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
The Box
The Fulcrum
The Hole
The Landing
The Poetic Research Bureau
The Wende Museum
Thinkspace Projects
Tierra del Sol Gallery
Tiger Strikes Astroid
Tomorrow Today
Track 16
Tyler Park Presents
USC Fisher Museum of Art
UTA Artist Space
Various Small Fires
Village Well Books & Coffee
Outside L.A.
Libraries/ Collections
Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Bard College, CCS Library (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)
Charlotte Street Foundation (Kansas City, MO)
Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Midway Contemporary Art (Minneapolis, MN)
Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA)
NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University (Alfred, NY)
Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
University of California Irvine, Langston IMCA (Irvine, CA)
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

A Chinese Cure

Leer en Español

Candice Lin, The Cultivation Syllabus: How to Make Calm-Lung Tincture (2020). Image courtesy of the artist and François Ghebaly, Los Angeles. Photo: Candice Lin.

Perhaps one of the most wretchedly astringent things I have consumed in this lifetime is a little vial of Chinese medicine, through a straw thin and rigid enough to pierce an earlobe. As an adolescent in Shanghai, I thought of Chinese medicine as akin to cow’s milk: both were putrid beverages, prescribed by my mother for my general wellbeing, and had a 50-50 chance of ending up in the bathroom sink.

Still, one week into stay-at-home orders, I was amateurishly prescribing my immunocompromised, asthmatic partner bottles of qingqi huatan pian (清气化痰片, “Flemclear”) and steeping bronchial teas with maodanbai (毛蛋白, mullein). I was not the only non-white, diasporic individual to return, mid-pandemic, to the discarded indigenous medicines of my youth. In fact, in these past months of isolation, I’ve noticed indigenous healing remedies appearing in various art contexts, even within the space of the commercial gallery. François Ghebaly shared Candice Lin’s recipe, “How to Make Calm-Lung Tincture” (which includes maodanbai, among other botanicals); Commonwealth and Council shared Julie Tolentino’s recipe for Jade Windscreen; Edgar Fabián Friás and Yunuen Rhi led Vincent Price Art Museum’s Instagram Live audience through a Daoist meditation.

At the onset of the pandemic, Trump leaned into the West’s centuries-long history of pathologizing China, labeling Covid-19 a “Chinese Virus”1 and later as “Kung Flu.”2 Such racist demagoguery stoked anti-Asian discrimination and harassment throughout the West, leaning on the region’s history of marshaling protectionist tactics, such as the discriminatory laws and xenophobic rhetoric that characterized the 19th century’s “Yellow Peril.” While much of this history is written out of dominant narratives, the afterlife of Euro-American depictions of China as medically backward and of ill health persists in the contemporary Western subconscious, with lasting consequences. For instance, in the popular 19th-century imagination of the West, China became known as “the Sick Man of Asia,” the “original home of the plague,” and the “pestilence of the East.”3 Perhaps my guttural response to the resurgence of anti-Chinese rhetoric, rooted in bacteriological racism, was to look for a “Chinese cure”—a cure reliant upon healing traditions closer to my nativity and further from the claims that render my body a pathogenic scapegoat.

Amidst my reconnection with Chinese medicine and a pandemic that our current president connects disparagingly to Chinese health practices, I wanted to delve into reclamations of indigenous medicine in contemporary art and culture while also familiarizing myself with the complex history of Chinese medicine. As it turns out, Chinese medicine, like so many things, is a story of colonization, essentialism, and Western capitalism. Using art as my conduit, I began my search for examples of indigenous medicine being uplifted in contemporary culture as a tool of restoration.

Candice Lin’s tincture recipe appeared on François Ghebaly’s website and Instagram account in late April, offering to ease pandemic-induced anxiety. “Every time I leave the house for groceries or gas… I get a weird pressure in my chest and anxiety when I return home,” Lin explains in the recipe’s introduction. To be fair, the artist has been working with herbal remedies and witchcraft since well before the pandemic, often looking at histories of migration and legacies of colonialism through indigenous uses of plants. For example, in her etching, Sycorax’s Collections (Happiness) (2011), she depicts the exiled witch Sycorax from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, her torso adorned with a collage of white women’s lipstick-ed smiles hanging from testicle-like pouches.

As our country experiences a tandem struggle against pathogen and racism, with Covid-19 continuing to swell alongside the uprisings for racial justice, BIPOC artists’ return to indigenous medicine and ancestral tradition feel particularly urgent. Lin related Sycorax’s banishment for her use of magic to an anti-colonial struggle, telling KCET that resistance movements such as the Haitian Revolution were “fueled in great part through the slaves’ use of herbs to poison their master’s drinking water and food.”4 She explained that this tactic “was an extension of African slaves’ common use of poisonous plants for suicide, contraception, abortion (or the threat of) in desperate attempts to act out the small shreds of control they still had over their lives and bodies.”5 In our current moment, re-engaging with such aspects of nativity provides an avenue to reclaim bodily autonomy from systemic racism and heal historical trauma.

In this time, I have become particularly drawn to artists whose practices refuse the Western canon’s Balkanization of disciplines and distinctly engage with medicine in contemporary and healing arts alike. In Julie Tolentino and Abigail Severance’s four-minute film, evidence (2014), Tolentino crouches naked as artist Stosh Fila (aka Pig Pen) suctions Chinese medicine cups to her buttocks, while a voice-over plays of Tolentino listing the names of loved ones and influential collaborators whose work has been informed by the AIDS crisis. Cupping as a form of Chinese medicine is visibly lustral. (Historically, I have worn evidence of the treatment publicly, without minoritarian shame.) When applied with pressure, each cup leaves a residue, providing a tangible portal for bodily memories to pass through.

Like Lin, Tolentino’s work in this sphere is not new. The artist has engaged in a multi-decade study of Chinese herbs, Eastern bodywork, and movement modalities as modes for deepening her understanding of care and somatic advocacy. When I asked her about the significance of bodywork in her practice, she told me she is “not thinking about a point-to-point ‘healing’ or even a ‘recognizable’ hurt,” noting her concern with the “way we share knowledge of oppressions and [the] attempts to create closure on our experiences.” The hurt associated with racial melancholia is often an immeasurable throb that lacks a recognizable source, stop, start, or location. The only portals for closure that feel adequate are embodied and somatic.

Candice Lin, Sycorax’s Collection (Happiness) (2011). Unique etching, watercolor, ink, and magazine collage, 13.25 x 15 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and François Ghebaly, Los Angeles.

Pointing to the complexities and often self-contradictory nature of diasporic attempts to reclaim minoritarian medicine in the West, the title of Candice Lin’s recent work, Minoritarian Medicine (2020), invokes Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s notion of becoming minoritarian: an active process of deterritorialization from the majority and resistance to predominant norms and power structures. In Lin’s medicine cabinet, seven tinctures, in UV protective bottles of various shades, are assembled amongst an amalgam of objects. Plants of resistance sit beside plants of appropriation, which sit next to plants of colonization. “Eco hand sanitizer”—a very Los Angeles nod to the current moment—is perched next to sugarcane, a plant with deep histories of colonization, slavery, and indentured labor in sugar plantations. Below is a tincture titled “Ancestors,” in which the first ingredient is Baby Blue Eyes, an annual herb native to California and Oregon, where Lin was raised. A direct reference to whiteness, the flower’s name raises the question of how the proximity to, or structures of, whiteness further complicate or delay one’s process of becoming minoritarian through medicine.

In my own process of observing and partaking in the reclamation of herbal traditions, I am reminded that Western hegemony tends to taint all. As with most forms of reclamation within oppressive systems, the reclamation of indigenous medicinal practices is not immune to processes of recolonization or appropriation. Many traditional indigenous medicinal practices were selectively exported into European culture. Lin explains that “the knowledge was co-opted (when it was medically useful or culinarily delightful) or purposefully erased.”6 As one of the earliest forms of cultural tradition to be globally reformed by Euro-American modernism, medicine is inherently a colonial project. For instance, 18th century Spaniard physicians of fragile colonies in the Americas appropriated indigenous plant remedies like maguey, a native agave plant, to preserve their health and thus further embolden their colonial efforts.”7

Similar forms of exploitation and recolonization occur in the contemporary West. BIPOC artists and their indigenous healing practices are tokenized to virtue signal neoliberal progressiveness and relevance. (We’ve similarly seen social media statements and donations to grassroots organizations used as marketing ploys for white-owned institutions to performatively signal solidarity.) Eastern medicine has also gradually and selectively become trendy and corporatized in the West, and perhaps more palatable for institutional consumption. Local Los Angeles establishments, such as Moon Juice, take ancient Chinese medicinal herbs like huangqi (黄芪, astragalus) and repackage them, branding them as “invigorating” and “beautifying,” while erasing the origins, histories, and traditional uses of these medicines.

Meanwhile, in the East, where various indigenous Eastern medicines remain fundamental parts of contemporary culture, nation-states appropriate their own medicinal histories. In service of nationalism, Chinese leadership has heavily promoted Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as a treatment for Covid-19 since the beginning of the outbreak. Though, this is also a consequence of and defensive response to the West’s historical construction of China’s stereotyped pathological identity—TCM is an amalgamated, Westernized version of the herbal traditions. “Traditional” is only tacked onto the beginning of “Chinese Medicine” in the English translation, and the term officially refers to the post-1949, state-sanctioned practice of hybridized Chinese medicine, which, for the first time, integrated scientific Western biomedicine.8 The moment that “traditional” was fastened to its identity, TCM paradoxically began to signify a system much more modern than it is archaic. To borrow from Chinese literary theorist Nan Z. Da: “just by using language, postcolonialism slides into colonialism.”9

Thus, the Moon Juices of the West selectively co-opt aspects of Chinese medicine, unaware that the TCM they presume to know is already far from its indigenous roots. TCM’s appropriation by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) occurs first and foremost linguistically, and TCM’s increased promotion in China during Covid-19 should come as no surprise. How then does language re-colonize? It aids the country in legitimizing its ruling powers’ response to crisis through a falsified image of a strong cultural heritage, all the while defending itself against an enduring self-perception of deficiency.

Having experienced the CCP’s propagandistic exploitation of Chinese medicine in TCM, and witnessing firsthand my parents’ internalization of and subsequent inability to criticize Chinese nationalist rhetoric, I have been conditioned into a nuanced second-generation skepticism that questions whether marginalized peoples and their ancestral traditions will ever have a lasting designated place within institutions and corporate bodies, let alone nation-states. I am all too familiar with the performative gestures that saturate Chinese culture—many empty cultural scripts are signifiers without gravity.


In the West, amidst the backdrop of viral and racial crises, arts and cultural institutions steeped in pervasive whiteness are being held accountable to affirm anti-racist and decolonial ethics of care. Many have fallen short, exposing the gap between their professed politics and actions. @ChangeTheMuseum appeared on Instagram in mid-June, sharing anonymous testimonies from cultural workers detailing unchecked racism to ultimately pressure U.S. museums “to move beyond lip service proclamations.”10 In one testimony, a cultural worker of Asian descent recalls a one-on-one meeting with a senior staff member who cut the “meeting short and then remarked that there must be ‘coronavirus all over’ the laptop she was using to write notes.”11 I read this amidst my own experience of acute exploitation from one of the largest public art institutions in Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG). I had been organizing a panel of six Asian women artists in partnership with VAG and Contemporary Calgary. Local controversy ensued after the appointment of a white man as VAG’s CEO and director, only one day after Canadian Art published an article titled “A Crisis of Whiteness in Canada’s Art Museums.” Upon discovering the local outcry, just 24 hours before the panel, I severed ties with the institution and rescheduled the panel without their involvement. Withdrawing from working with them was a sort of ethical reclamation. I did not want myself or the panelists to be tokenized as women of color to support an institution that had shown itself tone-deaf to the urgent calls of the BLM uprising and BIPOC demands for institutional reckonings.

VAG’s performative tactic of promoting and hosting the panel without real care for the artists on that panel or for its local community is similar to Chinese leadership’s exploitation of TCM. I fear that many of the art institutions (helmed by white gatekeepers) who are now making space for BIPOC artists, methods of care, and non-canonical art forms might be invested in an empty, gestural economy to retain ephemeral relevance.

Will BIPOC artists and their decolonial tools become increasingly exploited (like TCM has been) for cultural-political capital? VAG’s behavior makes me prickle at François Ghebaly’s use of Lin’s tincture, and I’m left to wonder how sharing a recipe for healing by a woman of color on Instagram might translate into actual care for minoritarian communities within the space of the white-owned gallery. How can institutions reflect that they value minoritarian traditions (like indigenous medicine) beyond what is palatable to the contemporary West’s art world? Aside from donations, representing BIPOC artists, and hosting BIPOC artist-led initiatives, institutions are being directly called to better reflect and provide meaningful care to the communities whom they serve and represent. When white institutions performatively host or co-opt BIPOC artists’ reclamation of autonomy and ancestral histories without manifesting deeper care, it truncates, negates, and leaches from the original process of reclamation. Many of us are thirsting for more entropy, a larger transgression, another portal. Beyond the reclamation of healing, self, and nativity, the art institution must be reclaimed too.

This essay was originally published in Carla issue 21.

Julie Tolentino, Smoke of Future Fires (detail) (2013). Image courtesy of the artist.

Julie Tolentino and Abigail Severance, evidence (video still) (2014). Video, 4 minutes, 17 seconds. Image courtesy of the artists.

Julie Tolentino, REPEATER (performance installation view) (2019). Image courtesy of the artist and Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles. Photo: Ruben Diaz.

  1. Katie Rogers, Lara Jakes, and Ana Swanson, “Trump Defends Using ‘Chinese Virus’ Label, Ignoring Growing Criticism,” New York Times, March 18, 2020,
  2. Jose A. Del Real, “With ‘Kung Flu,’ ‘Thugs,’ and ‘Our Heritage,’ Trump Leans on Racial Grievance as He Reaches for a Campaign Reset,” The Washington Post, June 22, 2020,
  3. Larissa Heinrich, The Afterlife of Images: Translating the Pathological Body between China and the West (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008).
  4. Anuradha Vikram, “Candice Lin’s Garden of Earthly Delights,” KCET, August 25, 2015,
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Mark Allan Goldberg, “Medicine and Spanish Conquest: Health and Healing in Late Colonial Texas,” in Conquering Sickness: Race, Health, and Colonization in the Texas Borderlands (Lincoln; London: University of Nebraska Press, 2016), 16-39, accessed June 30, 2020,
  8. Volker Scheid, Chinese Medicine in Contemporary China: Plurality and Synthesis (Durham: Duke University Press, 2002).
  9. Nan Z. Da, “Language After the Fact: Rey Chow’s ‘Not Like a Native Speaker,’” Los Angeles Review of Books, June 2, 2016,
  10. Change The Museum (@changethemuseum), “Pressuring US museums to move beyond lip service proclamations by amplifying tales of unchecked racism…,” Instagram biography, accessed July 11, 2020,
  11. Ibid,

stephanie mei huang is an L.A.-based interdisciplinary artist. They use a diverse range of media and strategies, including film/video, writing, sculpture, and painting. They were a participant in the Whitney Independent Study program (2022) and received their MFA from the California Institute of the Arts (2020).

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