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

at 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
at LADIES’ ROOM
– Jessica Simmons

Derek Paul Jack Boyle
at SMART OBJECTS
–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
at NAVEL
–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
at LAXART
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
at MOCA PDC
–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
Reviews
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

Home
at LACMA

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.
Featuring:
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
Generous
Structures
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.
Featuring:
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

Ma
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
at LACMA
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews
Made in L.A. 2016
at The Hammer Museum

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

Mertzbau
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
Non-Fiction
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
at REDCAT
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
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
Reconsidering
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater:
Diana Thater
at LACMA
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
at LACMA

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:
F.B.I.
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota:
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
and LOUDHAILER
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
at ASHES/ASHES
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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
MEAT PHYSICS/
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
SOGTFO
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
@barnettcohen
Mateo Tannatt
Photographs
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Pierre Huyghe
at LACMA

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.)
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Atwater Village/Silver Lake/Echo Park
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Bel Ami
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FOYER-LA
Human Resources
LACA
NOON Projects
Parrasch Heijnen Gallery
Sebastian Gladstone
SOLDES
Tierra del Sol Gallery
The Fulcrum
Wönzimer Gallery
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Arcana Books
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the Landing
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USC Fisher Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art, Frances Mulhall Achilles Library (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

Existing is Resisting: AAPI Artists at Work

Leer en Español

Curator stephanie mei huang igniting their altar offerings of moxa and joss paper on the opening night of with her voice, penetrate earth’s floor (2022). Image courtesy of the artists and Eli Klein Gallery.

For Americans, the present feels like a period of prolonged and ceaseless mourning: over one million lost to Covid-19; 10 Black people killed in a hate crime shooting in Buffalo, New York; 19 children and two teachers, most of them Latinx, killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas; the end of the federal right to abortion, a decision that will disproportionately harm people of color.1 Amidst this alarming cycle of senseless violence and incalculable loss, many communities are nursing these fresh wounds on top of—and as constant reminders of—the already-present traumas of racism, sexism, and xenophobia. For Asian Americans too, the moment we are living through is one of perpetual grief. More than a year after the 2021 Atlanta spa shootings, which killed six Asian American women, violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community has not subsided. As a biracial Asian American woman, I can hardly remember a time when potential and real violence against my body and those who share my heritage has been so painfully palpable; indeed, moving through the world has rarely felt so precarious. 

In the wake of the brutal murders of Michelle Go, a recent NYU grad who was pushed in front of a subway car in Times Square in January; and Christina Yuna Lee, an arts worker living in New York City’s Chinatown who was followed home and stabbed over 40 times in her bathtub in February, the hate and prejudice that motivates such atrocious acts of violence have not been quelled.2 Each new attack seems to send the same message, and push it deeper under our skin: you are not welcome here. 

The violence inflicted on the Asian American community, a tangible residue of colonialism and its pervasive presence in the form of white supremacy, also seeps into daily life in myriad forms, be it microaggressions or hurtful stereotypes. These effects are felt across every field, not least the visual arts. Historic underrepresentation within the art community has been replaced by its Trojan horse cousin, tokenization—empty virtue-signaling bereft of the necessary structural change such gestures claim to stand for. Often typecast or taken for granted as the “model minority,” Asian Americans suffer from endemic invisibility—violence in and of itself. In grappling with the current and historical waves of violence, AAPI artists and curators turn to the tools they have: using their art and exhibitions as platforms to reclaim space to mourn, process, and resist the repercussions of these deep physical and psychic traumas. These acts make room for the communal shaping and expressing of AAPI subjectivities in a society that would render us invisible. If grief is a function of what it is to be human, the ability to mourn and process within our community is the first step toward envisioning new ways of existing outside of hegemonic structures. For a population plagued in this country by historic and continued invisibility, the act of being seen and heard, of taking up space, is itself a form of resistance. In particular, three recent shows— one in New York City and two in Los Angeles—offered diverse approaches to reclaiming the gallery space by transforming it into a site of mourning, processing, and resisting unspeakable acts of violence against our community. While art cannot enact new legislation, it does have the power to plant the seeds of change by way of a more open-ended form of inquiry, one that holds space not only for action but for the emotional reckoning that necessarily precedes it. 

§

with her voice, penetrate earth’s floor, an exhibition curated by Los Angeles-based artist and writer stephanie mei huang, took a radical and cathartic approach to exhibition-making. A memorial exhibition devised to honor the life and mourn the death of the aforementioned Lee, with her voice brought together the work of nine AAPI women artists, including Lee, and was held at Eli Klein Gallery in Manhattan, where Lee worked for over four years. The exhibition took its title from Dictée by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, a Korean American artist who was raped and murdered in Lower Manhattan 40 years ago, in 1982, a week after the novel was published. In the gallery, huang installed an altar below Lee’s painting, Golden Bridge For Eli Klein (2014), that overflowed with offerings for Lee made by the artists in the show, transforming the gallery into a site of collective mourning. AAPI women were also offered joss paper as a takeaway, a type of paper traditionally used to hold offerings of earthly tokens, like money or clothing, that are burned and thereby sent to loved ones who have left this world. 

Haena Yoo’s contribution, two iterations of I’ve gone to look for America ([Revolver] and [Pistol], both 2021), also uses paper in a commemorative gesture, in this case for the victims of the Atlanta spa shootings. Dyed in soy sauce and folded into the shape of guns via origami techniques, the works feature headlines from 2020 and 2021 newspaper articles that read with the impact of gunshots: “8 Dead in Atlanta Spa Shootings, With Fears of Anti-Asian Bias,” “The Cost of Being an ‘Interchangeable’ Asian.” Nearby was Patty Chang’s List of Invocations (2017), a letterpress print embossed with a series of written invocations. The piece is an inventory of affects that range from references to end-of-life rituals (“invocation of a feeding tube,” “invocation of grief”) to the humorous and quotidian (“invocation of inappropriate laughing or crying”) to the metaphysical or aesthetic (“invocation of writing with light,” “invocation of evaporation”). These written acts recall Chang’s 2020 video installation, Milk Debt, which consisted of videos of lactating women pumping their breast milk as they faced the camera and recited lists of fears. Here, Chang’s work took inventory of the grieving process and brought the findings into a community context, allowing us to share the brunt of their weight. In the exhibition catalog, huang writes: “We have been robbed, as members of the diaspora in the West, from our grieving processes,”3 noting that Western culture pathologizes extended periods of grief, only pushing the mourner deeper into her bereaved isolation. Instead, with her voice sought to create a shared space for public mourning, one from which new forms of connectivity might begin to take form.

Haena Yoo, I’ve gone to look for America (Pistol I) (2021). Rice paper dyed in soy sauce, 10 × 7 × 1.25 inches. © Haena Yoo. Image courtesy of the artist, Murmurs Gallery, and Eli Klein Gallery.

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Back in Los Angeles, two recent exhibitions took up other strategies of resistance, offering propositions for processing colonial histories in Asia and the U.S. The first, titled Archival Intimacies: Queering South/East Asian Diasporas, took place between ONE Archives at the USC Libraries and the USC Pacific Asia Museum. Both shows, individually titled Stranger Intimacy I and II, explored another model of resistance by reclaiming and reexamining colonial histories and their impact on Asian American diasporic movements and cultural formation. Both venues featured work by Prima Jalichandra-Sakuntabhai and Vinhay Keo, whose artworks process the historical trauma of their migrant predecessors, who fled oppressive regimes in Southeast Asia to settle in the West. 

Jalichandra-Sakuntabhai’s video installation in Stranger Intimacy II at ONE Archives, titled Appendix A: Ocean Gazing (2022), charted the migratory patterns of their great-granduncle, Pridi Banomyong, who fled Thailand’s monarchy in the 1900s—going first to China, then to France—after attempting to form a democracy there. The artist’s voiceover in the video draws a parallel between Asian and American ports, layering a poetic narration over maps of Banomyong’s migratory route. In the film, these biographical details are coupled with sun-drenched images of the Southern Californian littoral—the sea and shipping containers that hug its coastline. The work parallels opposite ends of the Pacific, whose watery byway both connects the U.S. and Asia and forms a barrier between East and West. Guided by contextualizing details provided by the voiceover, the video also mines the lasting colonial residues of language and architecture, particularly amongst the military paraphernalia along the San Pedro coast. 

Keo’s works in Stranger Intimacies II utilized the traditional Cambodian garment of the sampot, unpacking its material and colonial histories through a series of hanging works. One patterned red cotton sampot took the shape of the familiar pink California doughnut box—infusing Cambodian tradition with the SoCal lore of the Cambodian American community, who dominate the local doughnut industry.4 Another more traditional iteration of the sampot in embroidered silk and cotton with fraying edges was suspended from the ceiling by a wooden rod, backlit by a lightbulb in a reference to Felix Gonzales-Torres’ use of light in his explorations of queerness. The artist shared with me in an email exchange that his use of the sampot is intended to trace its gendered material history as a once unisex garment that was feminized under French colonial rule. The exhibition’s material and filmic explorations of historical memory resonated at a time of ongoing reckoning around the colonial phantoms that still haunt Asian American communities, carving out a quiet place of processing across two venues that champion the AAPI and queer communities, respectively.

At Bel Ami in L.A.’s Chinatown, the artist collective CFGNY, which comprises Daniel Chew, Ten Izu, Kirsten Kilponen, and Tin Nguyen, also explored the colonial histories of materials, transforming them by way of unexpected associations. Titled Import Imprint, the exhibition (their first solo U.S. presentation) featured sculptural manipulations in porcelain, metal, and cardboard that highlighted the role of porcelain as a globalized Asian export. The clay body, which came to symbolize both wealth and exoticism in the era of U.S. mercantilism, was used decoratively and in the aptly-named chinaware beginning in the 17th century. Porcelain goods became signifiers of wealth while remaining tinged with an “orientalist” mystique. In the exhibition, slip-cast porcelain forms with imprints of quaint architectural moldings were displayed at eye-level, suspended by welded floor-to-ceiling steel poles in several works. CFGNY also conjured the colonial domestic settings in which these prized appropriative vessels were displayed as insignia of success in U.S. households—fragments of ornate door trims and mantlepieces made of cardboard were installed throughout the space, providing flimsy physical support for the porcelain works. Here, the use of cardboard alluded perhaps to the fragility of the colonial mentalities at play in the global trade of the time, social statuses that hinged on the oppression of a marginalized “other.” In American Construction Study: Fragment IV with Four Vases (Chartreuse) II (all works 2022), a block of green-tinted porcelain molded with the traces of an ornate pattern and supported with thin, bent metal rods, sits atop a portion of a floating cardboard mantelpiece. These eerie fragments of a bygone domestic imaginary built on the exploitative logic of colonialism (and by extension, globalization) reveal the underbelly of American consumer culture and its reliance on China for both its foreign mystique and the affordability of its labor. 

CFGNY’s use of cardboard is also suggestive of the material’s role in global trade—its affordability, and thus prolificacy. Among the cardboard architectural fragments was American Construction Study: Fragment I, a cardboard door with fraying edges, its upper half printed with a digital reproduction of a bucolic landscape. The printed painting by Hudson River School artist Asher Brown Durand embodied the movement’s vision of an American sublime—a pastoral fantasy that contrasted the lived experiences of so many, particularly those of immigrants. Like Archival Intimacies, Import Imprint sheds new light on histories of migration and diaspora, calling attention to the oft-invisible colonial narratives embedded in our architectural environments and allowing us to perceive the inequities that permeate our material realities so that we may process and mourn the violent antecedents they conceal. 

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Let us briefly return to the real-world context in which these artworks exist. The wave of attacks against Asian Americans has been a wake-up call for many white Americans, in and outside of the art world. When I began this writing in May, it was AAPI Heritage Month (coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Month, not unfitting for a population plagued by acts of hate and their ensuing trauma), and my Instagram feed was temporarily aglow with galleries’ and art institutions’ messages of solidarity. Yet, the recognition of an entire ethnic group should not be limited to an arbitrary month, and unthinkable atrocities should not be the necessary forerunners of genuine visibility. To put it bluntly: why do Asian Americans have to die for a broader audience to begin to recognize our cultural contributions? In the wake of a string of brutal murders and amidst a context of unacceptable anti-Asian sentiment in the U.S., appreciating AAPI artists does not exclusively have to be a function of grief. As made evident from the sheer breadth of inquiry, form, and material strategies deployed by AAPI artists, in L.A. and beyond, as they come together to mourn, process, and resist, art can become a fruitful place to subvert attempts to classify or reduce via stereotype. Amidst a political, social, and cultural reality of physical and psychological violence in the U.S., and particularly in light of our community’s historic invisibility in the West, it is a joy to see these artists’ work effectively performing their authors into being—through its articulate strategies of resistance, but also by dint of its presence. That is: for a population long condemned to silence or stereotype, perhaps existing on our own terms can itself be a form of resistance. These artists’ work—at turns grief-ridden, poetic, and incisively intelligent—inherently resists effacement and invisibility, as if to proclaim: I am here, I contain multitudes, and cannot be hidden from view. 

Kelly Akashi, August 4-6 (2020). Bronze, 4.5 × 13 × 8.5 inches. © Kelly Akashi. Image courtesy of the artist, François Ghebaly, and Eli Klein Gallery.

CFGNY, Import Imprint (installation view) (2022). Image courtesy of the artists and Bel Ami, Los Angeles. Photo: Josh Schaedel.

Vinhay Keo, INDO · CTR · I · NATION (2020). Image courtesy of the artist.


This essay was originally published in Carla issue 29.

  1. “Roe v. Wade Overturned: Supreme Court Gives States the Right to Outlaw Abortion,” Planned Parenthood, accessed June 30, 2022, https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/issues/abortion/roe-v-wade.
  2. Sakshi Venkatraman, “‘Nowhere is Safe’: Asian Women Reflect on Brutal New York City Killings,” NBC News, February 16, 2022, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/nowhere-safe-asian-women-reflect-brutal-new-york-city-killings-rcna16173.
  3. stephanie mei huang, “On Joss,” in With Her Voice, Penetrate Earth’s Floor: A Group Exhibition in Memory of Christina Yuna Lee, section IV, accessed June 10, 2022, http://www.galleryek.com/attachment/en/559aad566aa72c9c3d07911a/Publication/6252040780801235a400375a.
  4. David Pierson, “Why are doughnut boxes pink? The answer could only come out of Southern California,” Los Angeles Times, May 25, 2017, https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-pink-doughnut-boxes-20170525-htmlstory.html.

Vanessa Holyoak is an interdisciplinary writer and artist based in Los Angeles. Her art writing focuses on installation, sculpture, and image-based practices. She holds a dual MFA in Photography & Media and Creative Writing from the California Institute of the Arts and is a PhD candidate in Comparative Media and Culture at USC. Her criticism has appeared in art-agenda, BOMB, East of Borneo, and Hyperallergic, among other publications.

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