Tiffany Jaeyeon Shin
Like Water and Oil Never Assimilating
AC Institute | September 08 – October 06, 2017
“Every six months, my mom sends me a package from Korea and I drink my 한약. I imagine the sourness dampening the lining of my gastric mucosa and breaking up that year’s build up of white toxicity. Why is it that my identity is hinged on immiscibility, like water and oil never assimilating? Yes, it’s me, it’s clear that my own invisibility is the problem. My body buries every ache and every moment that hangs in the air like pollen and in the food like dust. It has turned my flesh into a vessel and no amount of water can break up this mucous. So, I drink my 한약 for self-conditioning. I dodge the growing weight of erasure under my skin and imagine purging that damp, thick coat that lines my membrane. And in the process, the deeply buried toxins rise up on my skin as horrible breakouts. This is the way my body insists, I am here.”
Like Water and Oil Never Assimilating will feature works that investigate the history of Asian American identity through the lens of anti-Asian and Yellow Peril journalism. What tools and rationale have been used in the past to justify conquest and discriminatory policies? What kind of boundaries and erasures do we participate in when we imagine the Asian diaspora from previous formations of Asian American identity? Some works examine how this legacy is self-conditioned or digested using literal materials - herbs, medicine, and food – to echo the history of colonialism. The exhibition investigates the inheritance of Orientalism in America to contextualize how this legacy carries over to the present, to cultivate a feeling of identity hinged on immiscibility, like water and oil never assimilating.
Full Press Release
Press: Brooklyn Rail Review