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May 10, 2021

May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month! MCA Denver Staff Shares Their Influential Artists and Creators

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May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, marking a time for us to celebrate and recognize the contributions and achievements made by AAPI Americans to this country's history and culture.  

Throughout the month of May, we asked our staff to share artists/creators that have impacted their lives, as well as have made an influence on American arts and culture.

Nora Burnett Abrams - Mark G. Falcone Director 

Who is an artist/creator that has been an influence in your life?

Do Ho Suh, a Korean artist who is now based in London after attending RISD and Yale.

Share and discuss your favorite work from this artist/creator?

His works are often large-scale installations made of translucent fabric that resuscitate the spaces he formerly occupied. Like a memory that is both fixed and loose, his sculptures approximate his longing and sense of nostalgia for his home. His own personal sense of displacement, of being outside the familiar (literally, architecturally, linguistically, etc) is central to his work. He has replicated old homes from his childhood and spaces he has lived in during adulthood — there is a sense of longing for a stable domestic environment, and yet the ineffability of that longing is materialized through his specific material choices. His work is powerful,  yet humbly monumental. It speaks to a home, yet one that seems forever out of reach.

Photo of Home within Home, 2019  Polyester fabric, stainless steel  292.91 x 325.59 x 316.93 inches
Home within Home, 2019 - Installation view at Incheon International Airport, South Korea
In collaboration with Hyundai LIVART Photo by Jeon Taeg Su - www.lehmannmaupin.com

They sound fascinating! Can you share some resources where we can learn more?

Rubbing/Loving - art21

Artist Profile - Do Ho Suh - Lehmann Maupin

Lacey Manuel - Shop Buyer

Who is an artist/creator that has been an influence in your life?

Zhang Huan 

Share and discuss your favorite work from this artist/creator?

To Add One Meter to an Anonymous Mountain, 1995. Through the use of his body in performance art, Zhang seeks to discover realms of the spirit and the limits of endurance. His work often aims to challenge oppression in politics, faith and spirituality, violence, and censorship. This work shows the impact of the human body and the collective achievement of their efforts. It is said to have been inspired by the old Chinese saying, 'beyond the mountain there are more mountains." Zhang and the group of people traveled to the top of a mountain in Beijing. One by one, they stripped down naked and stacked themselves on top of one another. In doing this, they created one extra meter added to the mountain. Zhang Huan says that at the time, “It was about humility. Climb this mountain and you will find an even bigger mountain in front of you. It’s about changing the natural state of things, about the idea of possibilities.”

To Add One Meter To An Anonymous Mountain 1995 - Zhang Huan Performance Mentougou District, Beijing
To Add One Meter To An Anonymous Mountain, 1995 - Zhang Huan Performance Mentougou District, Beijing

They sound fascinating! Can you share some resources where we can learn more? 

Artsy Artist Profile - Zhang Huan

ArtNet - Zhang Huan

Zhang Huan by Benjamin Genocchio 

Sarah Kate Baie - Director of Programming 

Who is an artist/creator that has been an influence in your life?

Rirkrit Tiravanija

Share and discuss your favorite work from this artist/creator?

I never experienced a Rirkrit work in person, but I have certainly read about his practice, and his work was foundational in my understanding of contemporary art, and more specifically, how contemporary could act not as a work on a wall, but as a connector of people. Rirkrit was prominent in the early 00s – he won the Hugo Boss prize in 2004 – during the same time he had a show at the Guggenheim and also at the Whitney. He was a key part of the art movement known as relational aesthetics, but I love his work for its simplicity. 

At the 1995 Whitney Biennial, his installation included three electric guitars, a set of drums on a platform, and several bands with young unknown musicians would make arrangements to meet there to practice or play. Around the same time, he recreated his apartment, down to the kitchen and the bedrooms, first in a museum in Germany, and then at Gavin Brown gallery. His installation was activated by visitors lounging on the furniture and sleeping on the bed (and sometimes more at Gavin Brown), but also by Rirkrit's curry dishes, which he would prepare for guests in the kitchen.

Rirkrit Tiravanija, Untitled (Free), 1992
 Untitled (Free), 1992 - www.gavinbrown.biz

They sound fascinating! Can you share some resources where we can learn more?

Shall We Dance? - 2005 New Yorker

Rirkrit Tiravanija

Artsy Artist Profile - Rirkrit Tiravanija

Learn more about AAPI Heritage Month here: https://asianpacificheritage.gov/ 

READ UP ON LAST WEEK'S STAFF SHARE HERE.