Within Global Isolation: Asian Artists in America is the first installment of a series of virtual exhibitions. Organized independently by curators Han Hongzheng and Christie’s Education Alumni Chandler Allen, Within Global Isolation: Asian Artists in America brings together work by ten Asian artists across the country, including Hương Ngô, Guanyu Xu, Leonard Suryajaya, Ying Zhu, Siyuan Tan, Zhen Guo, Damien Ding, Tin Wai Wong, Weina Lee, and Toby Zeng. The exhibition is a response to the rise in discrimination towards people of Asian descent, now at its peak as a result of COVID-19. In it, we reassess work relevant to the pandemic, and prompt questions of coexistence — both on the global and local levels.
The exhibition is virtual, and has a substantial interview component, in which each artist shares their experience with COVID-19 in stories that detail the discrimination they have faced as well as hardships universal to those surviving the pandemic. These extensive interviews allow for contrasting opinions and ideas to unfold through open discussion.
In the last six weeks, the death toll from COVID-19 has surged in the U.S. and so have reports of verbal and physical assaults against Asian Americans. According to Judy Chu, U.S. Representative for California’s 27th congressional district, reports of hate crimes are averaging 100 per day. These cases of xenophobia come not only from fellow citizens, but directly from the Trump administration, exemplified by the discriminatory rhetoric heard in the latest White House official proceedings. Are the leaders of this country intentionally resorting to backward ideology as a means to accelerate policy and warp the body politic? Maybe the problem is worse, more deeply-rooted — the latest manifestation of enduring ethnocentrism from previous race wars that still run thick through the bloodstream of our nation? Maybe this is too insular a view altogether, since intolerance is a sweeping condition existing in every corner of the world.
Today, President Trump announced his plans to suspend immigration to the U.S., demonstrating how urgent these issues are and how critical it is to prompt programming around them.
Within Global Isolation: Asian Artists in America offers no answers and tells no narrative. Instead, the aim is to contribute to discourse by repositioning the conversation towards individuals, who through their practice have, and continue to, grapple with issues of cross-cultural identity and cross-geographical governance. Brought together, their varied, intergenerational practices represent the field of possibilities for agency in our current political and social climate. Second to ostracism, these artists face what all artists face right now, mainly a sharp cut in support. Exhibitions postponed or canceled indefinitely, studios foreclosed, student visas in jeopardy — these are the burdens of circumstance that may ultimately be most consequential.
Within Global Isolation: Asian Artists in America will be available to view throughout the time of the pandemic.
Chandler Allen (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Hongzheng Han (email@example.com)
Image: Hương Ngô (Photographer Paul O’Reilly), ESCAPE. 2004 - 2006. Courtesy of the Artist.