Scratching at the Moon
1717 East 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA
Friday, February 9 at 4:00 PM 7:00 PM
Ends Jul 28, 2024
The Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA) announces its spring exhibition, Scratching at the Moon, organized by ICA LA guest curator Anna Sew Hoy and Good Works Executive Director Anne Ellegood. The first focused survey of Asian American artists in a Los Angeles contemporary art museum, Scratching at the Moon celebrates the work of an intergenerational group of thirteen leading artists in the Asian American community whose contributions to culture are multiple, ranging from their distinctive visual arts production to their commitment to pedagogy to their dedication to research, activism, and community engagement. Featured artists include Patty Chang, Young Chung, Vishal Jugdeo, Simon Leung, Michelle Lopez, Yong Soon Min, Na Mira, Amanda Ross-Ho, Miljohn Ruperto, Dean Sameshima, Anna Sew Hoy, Amy Yao, and Bruce Yonemoto. “The initial idea for Scratching at the Moon came in the summer of 2020. It was the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, and we were all reckoning with the incredible loss and uncertainty. The movement in support of Black lives erupted across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, while Asian Americans faced increased attacks amidst false claims about COVID-19. In response, there was a rise in collective organizing and coalition-building, as communities came together to uplift one another and survive this global emergency. During this time, I began to imagine an exhibition of Asian American artists living in Los Angeles—or with close ties here—that would make visible the communities and relationships in which I had participated since returning to the city in 2002,” recounts Sew Hoy. “While Los Angeles has long been home to a large and growing Asian American population, the work of artists from diasporic immigrant communities remains underrepresented in art institutions in the city,” Ellegood states. “Scratching at the Moon highlights the diverse stories of those from the Asian diaspora in America and their innumerable contributions to all facets of life in the United States—undeniably ‘American’ stories—providing models of what being Asian American looks like.” With a focus on artistic production in Los Angeles, Scratching at the Moon traces the overlapping activities among dynamic artistic communities that have come to define the city’s art world over the past two decades. The artists in the exhibition come from varied backgrounds—some born in the United States and others who emigrated from Korea, the Philippines, China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Canada—and their works confront such topics as gender roles, structural racism, immigration, displacement, gentrification, family, and the archive. The exhibition presents significant works—several created specifically for Scratching at the Moon—encompassing the mediums of video, multi-media installation, sculpture, ceramics, photography, and performance. A recurring thread uniting these artists’ distinct practices is a relationship to the immigrant experience. While the exhibition relies on the category of Asian American to redress some of the lack of representation in contemporary art museums, it also seeks to pull apart that very category by honoring the diversity and multiplicity within it. Scratching at the Moon argues that every body is an archive within which generations of experiences across continents are held. The stories contained within the works on view not only trouble, but also expand our understandings of Asian American identity beyond superficial characteristics. Instead, they present identity as something informed by experiences of displacement, cross-cultural existence, misidentification, and marginalization, alongside understandings of family bonds, chosen communities, and resiliency, resulting in a far more complex sense of identity as lived, shared, and embodied. Contributing to efforts of coalition building, collaboration, and the beautiful entanglements that shape identity, Scratching at the Moon honors and historicizes the important work of these deserving artists, mapping their roles and activities within a variety of cultural contexts. The artists’ commitment to community, criticality, and resistance is visible across their works, and Scratching at the Moon provides an opportunity to bear witness, together, to the critical stories these important artists bring to light. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly exhibition catalogue designed by Dorothée Perret of DoPe Press, which will be available in the spring of 2024. The publication features a curatorial essay co-written by Anna Sew Hoy and Anne Ellegood, an excerpt from a text by acclaimed writer and scholar Julietta Singh, and three commissioned essays by curator and writer John Tain (Curator of the 2024 Lahore Biennale); curator Kris Kuramitsu (Curator at Large, The Mistake Room, Los Angeles); and writer and editor Sarah Wang (Adjunct Assistant Professor at Barnard College, New York). Together, these commissioned essays chart the artists, attitudes, cultural spaces, and exhibitions that have defined the Asian American arts networks of Los Angeles since the early aughts. The catalogue also includes five conversations among groups of exhibiting artists in which they discuss wide-ranging topics including their work, personal histories of immigration and how it shapes their world view, and their memories of the L.A. art scene from the 1980s to the present. Moreover, the catalogue features generous artist portfolios with images and information selected by the artists, accompanied by texts on each artist’s work written by Ellegood, Curatorial Associate Caroline Ellen Liou, and Senior Curator Amanda Sroka. Scratching at the Moon is organized by ICA LA guest curator Anna Sew Hoy and Good Works Executive Director Anne Ellegood with support from Caroline Ellen Liou, Curatorial Associate. Public Programs: Saturday, February 10 Art Talk: Anna Sew Hoy, Michelle Lopez, John Tain, and Amy Yao, moderated by Anne Ellegood 4–5pm To kick off our Open House celebrations, we welcome a panel of artists and curators from the Scratching at the Moon exhibition to discuss the genesis of the project, as well as Asian American artists and arts networks in Los Angeles, and the subject of diaspora as explored in this group show. Open House: Public Opening Reception for Scratching at the Moon with a DJ set by Symrin Chawla 5–7pm Join us for the public opening reception for Scratching at the Moon featuring food and drinks as well as a DJ set by artist Symrin Chawla. Wednesday, February 14 Artist Group Discussion with Patty Chang, Vishal Jugdeo, and Miljohn Ruperto, moderated by Anuradha Vikram 7pm Engage in a moderated discussion about the themes of Scratching at the Moon and the shared interests explored in the practices of these three artists. Wednesday, March 20 Mahjong Mistress: History of Mahjong and Game Play 6–9pm Join us for an evening with the Mahjong Mistresses to learn about the history of the centuries-old game of Mahjong followed by open sessions for play. Saturday, April 13 An afternoon with AAPI Arts Network 3–5pm The AAPIAN is a network of self-identified Asian American Pacific Islander visual artists, curators, educators, writers, and patrons working together and with the public to build open relational platforms to affirm and support the rich complexity of the AAPI experience. We invite you to meet the group over a potluck meal and discuss ideas and projects. Wednesday, May 1 Artist POV Tour: Candice Lin on Scratching at the Moon 7pm Explore the exhibition with multidisciplinary artist Candice Lin. Wednesday, May 8 Performance and Art Talk with Simon Leung and Na Mira 7pm Simon Leung and Na Mira collaborate on a performative presentation about their multifaceted works in Scratching at the Moon, exploring shared themes and the processes of their research- based practices. Sunday, May 12 Closing Performance and Discussion with the Fac Xtra Retreat (FXR): Ei Arakawa, Patty Chang, Pearl C. Hsiung, Amanda Ross-Ho, Anna Sew Hoy, Shirley Tse, and Amy Yao 3–5pm Join us for the return of Fac Xtra Retreat (FXR) — a studio art pedagogy-themed, temporal group of seven Asian American artist-educators based in L.A. whose provocations address the status quo of academia through performance, audience engagement, and strategies of spontaneity. Image: Na Mira, TETRAPHOBIA, 2022. Installation view of Subrosa, Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson, March 24–December 17, 2023. Image courtesy the artist and Paul Soto, Los Angeles. Photo: Maya Hawk, copyright © MOCA Tucson, 2023.
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