Periodically, BRIC invites curators and arts professionals to create a Short List of some of their favorite artists from the BRIC Contemporary Artist Registry. Here, emerging curator Claire Kim, who has worked in the curatorial department of BRIC and who is currently participating in the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Management Fellowship, selects a group of artists whose work explores the concept of "home," and the the process of gaining a sense of self and belonging.
Over the course of my life I've made homes out of a variety of places: apartments, dorm rooms, cities, cafes, and, at one point, a basement movie theater. The most recent addition to this list has been my parents' birthplace—Seoul, South Korea. For many first and second generation Americans, the process of creating and maintaining a relationship with a parent's homeland is both complicated and innate. In some ways, I feel like a complete foreigner in Seoul, reaching blindly to understand certain cultural nuances. Yet in other ways, I feel a greater sense of belonging there than I’ve ever felt in America. As first and second generation immigrants, we often straddle the line between harboring pride for our dual identities and feeling ashamed of our conflicting existence. In many cases, we use the memory or idealization of a faraway, obscure “home” to gain a sense of self and belonging. The artists featured below use their work as a vehicle for questioning the concept of home, existing in a foreign place and the relationship between themselves and their heritage. In what ways do we decide that a place has become “home?” How do we honor and communicate the significance of these places?
Golnar Adili integrates her Iranian-American identity into her interdisciplinary practice, specifically in her ongoing series, Displacement. Adili uses a variety of her father’s belongings, which include photos, letters and travel documents, to “meditate on diasporic longing.” Many works in Displacement are created through layering digital print onto Japanese textiles. Details vary from patterns to words, and are hand-sewn into assemblages to create an increased sense of depth, both literal and figurative. The physical layerings of Adili’s intricately constructed collages mirror the process of piecing together a sense of place from the debris of displacement.
Sara Jimenez is an interdisciplinary Filipina-Canadian artist. Jimenez focuses on themes of “material impermanence and transcultural memory,” by delving into her own lineage, familial narratives, and relationships to space. For her installation piece entitled Abyssal (pictured directly above), Jimenez collaborated with fellow artist Or Zublasky to create an “imagined oceanic space,” allowing visitors to enter an altered and surreal environment which includes a large net entangled with debris and audio clippings looming from above. Jimenez refers to this piece as the “connective tissue between ‘here’ (NY) and ‘there’ (the Philippines),”and personifies her experiences of existing in the in-between by capturing the ebb and flow of histories through a physical net filled with information.
Keka Marzagao is a Brazilian-born artist currently based in Brooklyn, whose works range from portraiture and video to installation. She focuses on uncovering and sharing different ideas of “identity, representation, and displacement,” particularly for first and second generation immigrants. In her ongoing photography series, Família, Marzagao creates portraits of immigrant families in their homes, collaborating with them on setting and other details which results in an image that “best represents themselves and their culture.” She then incorporates an audio interview with the family members which asks if the photograph “truthfully represented them and their culture.” Marzagao engages with the intricate and nuanced identities of first and second generation immigrants by using the intimate landscape of the home.
Jesse Chun is a visual artist whose practice ranges from digital media and video work to printmaking and publishing. Her work is heavily influenced by the experience of living in four different cities—Seoul, Hong Kong, New York, and Toronto. Chun’s familiarity with the immigration process, as well as her experience of being an expatriate, guides much of her artistic practice. Her series On Paper employs the visual and written languages found in documents used in “travel, immigration, and migration,” such as images and text from passports. These documents are pulled apart and re-contextualized to uncover a story that differs from the traditional immigration narrative. Chun questions the ideas of space and belonging by re-examining the often isolating and impersonal materials of immigration bureaucracy.
Mona Saeed Kamal was born in Algeria, raised in Canada, and is currently living in New York. This path has influenced her artistic practice, which is “rooted in the Indian subcontinent and [her] migratory upbringing.” Her sculpture Alluring Fiction (pictured directly above) references a traditional Indian bed made of ropes that is known as a charpoy, but has substituted the ropes with barbed wire. Using a common piece of furniture found in both Indian and Pakistani homes, Kamal shines light upon the decades-long conflict between the two countries. Kamal manipulates an object that symbolizes rest and home to convey a much larger issue, while simultaneously incorporating her personal experiences of migration, culture, nationalism and belonging.
Cristina Ferrigno applies her personal history to her work as a multimedia artist and photographer. Ferrigno was adopted as an infant from Bogotá, Colombia, before moving to and being raised in Brooklyn, NY. Her mixed media project, The Preservation of Heritage (pictured directly above), dives into her relationship with her home-country and specifically addresses her “feelings of in-betweenness.” Combining archiving, collaging, publishing, and photography, The Preservation of Heritage showcases the intimate ways in which personal vulnerability and images of familial narrative can help redefine the concept of “home.”
Cecile Chong is a multimedia artist whose works “address the process of cultural encounter and entanglement.” Chong was born in South America to Chinese parents and integrates her experiences to create work that emphasizes cross-cultural narratives. This thought process influences the materials she uses in her paintings, which include a variety of wooden panels, such as vintage ping-pong paddles, layered with encaustic and mixed media. Each of her paintings contain “25 to 30 layers of encaustic, metaphorically representing the layering of cultures, identity and places.”
ABOUT THE SHORT LIST CURATOR:
Claire Kim is an emerging curator based in New York City. She is a recent graduate of Fordham University, where she studied English Literature and Art History. Kim has worked in museum education, programming, and curation with numerous arts institutions and organizations, including the New Museum, the Asian American Arts Alliance, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and BRIC. She is currently participating in the pilot year of the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Management Fellowship through August 2018.