Publication Release of (self-portraits as) neither donkey nor horse

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  • Publication
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835 N Kings Road
West Hollywood, CA 90069

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The MAK Center for Art and Architecture presents the publication launch of (self-portraits as) neither donkey nor horse, a collection of recent work by stephanie mei huang, curated by Hauser & Wirth summer resident Allison C Smith.

Taking the form of an exhibition (on view at Hauser & Wirth) and publication, (self portraits as) presents huang’s recent works regarding racial melancholia and grief as explored through a cowboy drag avatarism of the (Asian) American West. In the wake of the 2021 Atlanta Spa Shootings, huang’s work addresses biopolitical and xenophobic rhetoric that finds its roots in19th century “yellow peril” and then becomes regurgitated and expanded upon in a 21st century anti-Chinese discourse surrounding COVID-19. huang counters/engages with this discourse with domesticized objects of play: play as drag/dress-up, domestication as colonization, animacies as hierichichalized bodies, miniaturization and infantilization of cowboy culture.  A para-narrative is met with an autotheory that ruptures throughout huang’s paintings, sculpture, photography, graphic design, performance, and video/film works, presented concurrently at Hauser & Wirth.

The ultimate rupture from exhibition’s paranarative occurs in the publication, which includes a curators note by Smith, an artist’s essay by huang that follows the tradition of autotheory as a modality of queer theory, and three letters to the artist by Lucas Baisch, Michael Ned Holte, and Ling Tiong. The form of letters reflects on a larger intimate history within queer communities of care and relationships centered around letter writing. For the publication release, huang collaborates with artist Julie Tolentino and sound artist Amma Ateria. huang reads from their personal artist’s essay, a self-theory, followed by a collaborative work engaging with Tolentino’s multi-decade study and practice with Chinese herbs and Eastern bodywork through a moxibustion— the burning of moxa, a mugwort, and artemisia (which huang spent this past spring foraging), on meridian points on huang’s body in a fortification of the yellow femme’s somatics— accompanied by live electroacoustic / binaural beats / equal-loudness contour sound works by Ateria.

About (self-portraits as) neither donkey nor horse

(self-portraits) as neither donkey nor horse will be on view at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles from June 26 – August 1 2021. The exhibition is curated, programed, and published by Allison C Smith, the summer resident of Hauser & Wirth’s ongoing collaboration with the California Institute of the Arts’ School of Critical Studies program.

About the Artists

stephanie mei huang (born 1994, Wausau) is a Los Angeles-based interdisciplinary artist. They use a diverse range of media and strategies including film/video, installation, social interventions, sculpture, writing, and painting. Through research and practice, they use slippery, chameleonic identity as a form of infiltration: a soft power reversal within hard architectures of power. They most recently exhibited at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, the New Wight Biennial at the University of California, Cerritos Gallery, the Arizona State University Art Museum in Tempe, and Stamp Gallery at the University of Maryland. They most recently completed their MFA in Art at the California Institute of the Arts (2020), and they received their BA from Scripps College (2016). They are a contributor to the Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles. They will attend the Whitney Independent Study Program this coming fall.

Allison C Smith (born 1994, Boston) (they/them/their) is an independent curator and writer with an artistic and academic practice currently living in Los Angeles. They received their MA in Aesthetics & Politics from CalArts School of Critical Studies (2021) and completed their BA in Art History at Skidmore College (2017). Smith completed their thesis on the queer practices of Julie Tolentino and Yve Laris Cohen within the politics of re-performance studies. Exhibiting, programming and publishing on huang’s work that speaks to a diasporic racialized violence manifested in the American West, Smith draws from their academic work on queer theory, parasitical drag, and feminist new materialisms in contemporary southern Californian performance studies. They’ve presented academic materials at conferences including the Cultural Studies Association (2021), and UCLA Theater & Performance Studies Graduate Conference (2021). They’re the recipient of curatorial internships and fellowships at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, and Hauser & Wirth.

Amma Ateria (born 1983, Hong Kong) is an electroacoustic composer, improviser, and sound artist. Her work explores themes in the coexistence of polarity and psychoacoustics with focus in binaural beats and equal-loudness contour. With an immediacy of tension and release, her performances navigate between oppositions from one end to another through stark transitions, transforming deafening noise into meditative stance. Through cross-modal synesthetic influences from the contemporary moment, notion of externalizing resonances acts in a form of questioning boundaries via brinks of breakage in the sonic spectrum. Her research focuses on objective / subjective perceptions of sound pressure level through velocity simulation, noise colours in electronic synthesis, and behavioral assignments with multi-channel systems. With memories of condensed cities, she gravitates to frequencies of close-ranged airplanes, polyrhythmic occurrences, out-of-body experiences, sustained harmonics intersected with musique concrète, distorted speech / lost speech. Since her studies at Mills College, her work has been presented at SoART, Austria (2013), Titanik Gallery, Finland (2014), The Stone, New York (2016), SFEMF, San Francisco (2016), BAMPFA, Berkeley (2017), Exploratorium, San Francisco (2018), Marfa Sounding, Marfa, Texas (2018), CCRMA, Stanford University (2018), YBCA, San Francisco (2019), Minnesota Street Project, San Francisco (2019), Other Minds: Latitudes 11 (2019), Recombinant ‘Clouds of Confoundment’, San Francisco (2020), Cone Shape Top: Cicada Series (2021).

Julie Tolentino, or JT, (born 1964, San Francisco) is an Filipina-Salvadorean artist whose practice explores durational performance, movement, and sensual practices within installation environments as a way to explore the interstitial spaces of relationality, memory, race, gender, and the archive. Collaborative projects with artists including longtime performance collaborator Pigpen AKA Stosh Fila, Aldo Hernandez, Abigail Severance, Mark So, Robert Crouch, Chitra Ganesh, Catherine Opie, Marcela Pardo-Ariza, and Christelle de Castro amongst many others, and extends into video, object- and scent-making, soundscapes, and texts drawn from the rich learning spaces of activism, advocacy, loss, and caregiving. Tolentino received their MFA from University of California Riverside in 2020, where they were a Dean’s Distinguished Fellow in Experimental Choreography. Selected performances and exhibitions include Aspen Art Museum, CO (2020); Performance Space New York, NY (2019); Participant Inc, New York (2019, 2005); The Kitchen, New York (2019, 2000); EFA Project Space, New York (2019); 6th Annual Thessaloniki Bienniale, Thessaloniki, Greece (2018); the Lab, San Francisco (2018); Manila Contemporary, Philippines (2014); New York University Abu Dhabi, UAE (2013); Theaterworks, Singapore (2013); New Museum, New York (2013); Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany (2010); and queerupnorth, Manchester, UK (1998). Tolentino was featured in Madonna’s SEX book (1992), Red Hot and Blue’s “Safe Sex is Hot Sex” poster series (1991), and Gran Fury’s “Kissing Doesn’t Kill” ad campaign (1989).