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(b Nagoya, July 6, 1936; d New York, NY, May 18, 2010).

Japanese painter, performance artist, and film maker, active in the USA. He studied medicine and mathematics at Tokyo University (1954–8) and art at the Musashino College of Art in Tokyo, holding his first one-man exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo in 1958 and contributing to the Yomiuri Independent exhibitions from 1958 to 1961. In 1960 he took part in the ‘anti-art’ activities of the Neo-Dadaism Organizers in Tokyo and produced his first Happenings and a series of sculptures entitled Boxes, which consisted of amorphous lumps of cotton wads hardened in cement; many of these were put in coffin-like boxes, though one entitled Foetus was laid on a blanket. In pointing to the sickness of contemporary society, these works caused a great scandal in Tokyo.

In 1961 Arakawa settled in New York, where soon afterwards he addressed himself to the idea of a work being ‘untitled’. In taking as his subject this apparent lack of subject, he emphasized the areas of the picture surface where the subject ‘ought to be’ by means of a few well-placed coloured framing marks, as in ...

Article

(b Busan, March 4, 1951; d New York, Nov 5, 1982).

Korean artist and writer active in the USA. Cha was born and raised in Busan, Korea, moving to Hawaii with her parents in the mid-1960s, and then later to San Francisco. Trained in French from early adolescence, she studied comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley, including the works of Stéphane Mallarmé. As part of her theoretical studies, Cha also majored in visual art, first concentrating on ceramics and then moving to performance-based work under the tutelage of James Melchert (b 1930). After graduating in both disciplines in 1973 and 1975 respectively, Cha continued her studies in visual art at the University of California, Berkeley, receiving an MFA in 1978. During this time, she studied abroad in Paris at the Centre d’Etudes Américain du Cinéma in 1976, working with psychoanalytic theorists such as Christian Metz and Raymond Bellour. Works created during this time were based on symbols, the manipulation of language via experimentation with font, scale and the placement of words, as well as cinematic devices such as the fade....

Article

Aileen June Wang

(b San Leandro, CA, Feb 3, 1972).

American performance and video artist of Chinese ancestry. Chang earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego in 1994. She showed her first solo exhibition at Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, in 1999. Her body of work focused on how people can be deceived, either through sight—what one sees is not necessarily true—or through mainstream assumptions about such topics as Asia, sexuality, and socially accepted behavior. Chang attributed her past stint in a cybersex company as the catalyst for exploring illusion as a theme. She realized that video flattened three-dimensional, live performances into a stream of two-dimensional images, enabling her to engage in visual deception.

Most of Chang’s early works investigated problems of gender and sexuality, using her own body and elements suggesting violence or transgression. The photograph Fountain (1999) depicted her inside a cubicle of a public lavatory, with a urinal visible on the far wall. Wearing a business suit, she knelt on hands and knees, seemingly kissing herself but actually slurping water off a mirror on the floor. The accompanying video focused on Chang’s face and her passionate interaction with her own reflection. While the photograph suggested female humiliation in a male world, the video complicated matters by implying that the act was motivated by narcissism....

Article

Michelle Yun

(b Ithaca, NY, 1966).

American multimedia artist. A second generation Korean–American, Joo grew up in Minneapolis, MN, and studied briefly at Wesleyan University as a biology major. He took a two-year sabbatical to work at a seed science firm in Austria and subsequently received his BFA from Washington University, St. Louis, MO. In 1989, Joo went on to receive an MFA in sculpture from the Yale School of Art, in New Haven, CT, in 1991, after which he moved to New York.

Joo’s diverse body of work includes sculpture, video, installations and works on paper that deal with issues relating to cultural identity, the body and the relationship between science and art. His projects overlap thematically and formally as part of an ongoing series. Joo has variously implemented a wide range of materials, including monosodium glutamate, salt, taxidermy animals and even his own body, to explore the transformative moment that signals a change of state between matter and energy. Through this exchange, Joo seeks to illuminate the slippages in meaning of the subject within a prescribed cultural context. Time often functions as a cyclical and multilayered catalyst for transformation, exemplified best through his video installations such as ...

Article

Kate Wight

(b Oakland, CA, March 31, 1911; d New York, NY, May 12, 2000).

American painter of Chinese descent. Best known for his watercolor paintings and work in the Hollywood film industry, Kingman’s work is considered influential in developing the “California Style” school of painting.

Kingman, born Dong Moy Shu, traveled to Hong Kong with his family at the age of 5 and began his formal education at the Bok Jai School. There he was given the school name “King Man,” which means “scenery” and “composition” in Cantonese. He later combined the two names. Kingman’s education continued at the Chan Sun Wen School, where he studied calligraphy and painting. In his late teens he returned to Oakland and in 1929 Kingman attended the Fox Morgan Art School, where his focus turned primarily to watercolor painting.

In 1936 Kingman gained success and national recognition with a solo exhibition at the San Francisco Art Association. Kingman’s work was largely watercolor paintings, which depicted landscapes and urban environments. Throughout the late 1930s Kingman painted over 500 works as an artist in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and served as an artist with the US Army during World War II. In the years after the war Kingman settled in Brooklyn, NY, and was an instructor at Columbia University and Hunter College. He was also a founding faculty member of the Famous Artists Painting School of Westport, CT....

Article

Sook-Kyung Lee

One of the characteristics of Korean contemporary art is a continuous effort in employing and interpreting international art practices and discourses. Art movements from Europe and North America in particular, including Abstract Expressionism, Art informel, Minimalism, Conceptual art and Post-modernism, have influenced many Korean artists’ styles and ideas since the 1950s, providing formal and conceptual grounds for critical understandings and further experiments. Whilst some artists who maintained traditional art forms such as ink painting and calligraphy exercised modernist styles and abstract forms largely within the norms and conventions of traditional genres, a large group of artists proactively adapted to Western styles, employing new materials and techniques as well as the notions of avant-garde and experimentalism (see fig.).

A major critique of the reception of Western art and aesthetics came from ‘Minjung art’ (People’s Art) in the 1980s as part of instigating a nationalist and politically charged art strategy. Several art historians and critics who emerged in the 1990s also expanded the scope of the debate with postcolonial and pluralist points of view. The shift in social, economic and political environments played an important role in changing sensibilities in art, along with the advances of technology and new media in the 2000s. The high degree of diversity and sophistication of Korean art in terms of media and subject matters became widely acknowledged within and outside the nation, and an increasing number of artists started to work on the cutting edge of international art....

Article

Reena Jana

[Lee Seung-Hee]

(b Kye-Chang, Korea, 1970).

Korean photographer and filmmaker. Lee is known for her self-portraits, in which she presents herself in various ethnic and societal roles, from a middle-aged, low-income Hispanic party hostess to a young, wealthy Asian businesswoman. Lee received her BFA from the Chung-Ang University in South Korea in 1993, an AAS from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York in 1996, and an MA in Photography, New York University, 1999. For her Projects series (1997–2001), Lee immersed herself in various American communities for extended time, from a clique of teenage skateboarders to executives who work in midtown Manhattan, informing group members of her status as an artist while assuming the wardrobe, hairstyle and mannerisms of a fictional character she sought to portray. She then asked members of these social groups to photograph her using everyday cameras and no enhanced lighting or backgrounds. The result is a series of snapshot-like images depicting the artist taking on a multitude of temporary personalities. When seen together, the photographs suggest a mosaic of American experiences....

Article

Mick Hartney

(b Seoul, July 20, 1932; d Miami, Jan 29, 2006).

South Korean video artist, performance artist, musician, sculptor, film maker, writer, and teacher, active in Germany and the USA (see fig.). From 1952 to 1956 he studied music and aesthetics at the University of Tokyo. In 1956 he moved to the Federal Republic of Germany: he studied music at the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich, and worked with the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen at Darmstadt, before joining Fluxus, with whom he made performance art, experimental music, and ‘anti-films’ (e.g. the imageless Zen for Film, 1962). His Neo-Dada performances in Cologne during this period included a celebrated encounter with John Cage, during which he formed a lasting friendship with the avant-garde composer by cutting off his tie. Inspired by Cage’s ‘prepared piano’, in which the timbre of each note was altered by inserting various objects between the strings, Paik’s experiments from 1959 with television sets, in which the broadcast image was modified by magnets, culminated in his seminal exhibition ...