Ceramic 207 (Divided Red), from Story Vessels, 2011
pigment ink on archival paper, Dimensions Variable
A series of motion scanner images printed with pigment ink on rag paper. In 2005 I went to Beijing to investigate Chinese contemporary culture—art, business, and education. After two tumultuous weeks of meetings and random discoveries, I landed a temporary teaching contract that required me to travel back and forth between Beijing and New York five separate times in 2006. Since then I’ve returned numerous more times to curate exhibits and lead workshops in Chinese culture for Western artists. In a sense, strangely, I’ve never fully come back from that first trip in 2005. ¶This project explores my work in China, but the pictures are not a representation of China, nor are they a documentary response to China; more accurately, they come from the experience of learning how to live and work in China. ¶In form and subject this series is inspired by contemporary Chinese art practice—from Ai Wei Wei’s falling antique pottery, to Rong Rong’s documentaries of Zhuang Huan’s excruciating performances—and by my memories of growing up in South Korea, where my father and I picked up ancient shards from country fields. ¶ As well, this work comes out of my impatience with traditional pictures of the exotic—that is, of those far-away people who are supposed to embody essentialist myths of transcendence and purity. Those people don’t exist, and that kind of picture-making is a lie that masks experience, burying the hope of actual human connection. And yet, getting to know a culture that is not your own is, in fact, difficult. This is the conundrum that I want to activate with these pictures.