NEW YORK, NY – Jeannie Rhyu and Yen Yen Chou are pleased to present a group exhibition featuring five East Asian femme artists. With paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and installation by Yen Yen Chou, Fuko Ito, Christina Yuna Ko, Jeannie Rhyu, and Huidi Xiang, “Transformation Sequence” uses the magical girl anime genre codified by Sailor Moon as a jumping-off point to explore themes of femininity, identity, alter ego, diaspora, chosen family, capitalism, nature, and society.
Transformation Sequence is a curatorial project featuring five East Asian femme artists practicing in the United States. Inspired by Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura, and other 90s magical girl anime, these artists’ works address questions of identity, alter ego, and subtle shifts in interpretation through a feminine lens, each bringing their own personally informed point of view.
The transformation sequence is a key moment in the magical girl genre which represents the culmination of the heroine’s double identity. In a flash of light and a whirl of colors, she changes from an ordinary girl to a superpowered, hyperfeminine warrior princess. Her outfit becomes frilly and covered with gems, and she wields a sparkling magic weapon. This is the moment when fact and fiction merge, and the persona takes the wheel, ready to kick ass. Though there are parallels in Western media such as Wonder Woman and Disney princess movies, the canonical transformation sequences belong to the Sailor Scouts from Sailor Moon. Here, the protagonists rely on the strength of their friendship and form an unconventional family while working together to defeat sinister villains.
Inventing themselves through their secret lives, these magical girls show how we can write our own narratives in which true power comes from the cosmic energy suffusing our surroundings. Likewise, the equally magical artists in Transformation Sequence reach into their personal and cultural histories for inspiration, turning unconsidered everyday scenarios into the basis for their unique mythos and staking a claim for the realities they are forging. Yen Yen Chou explores the pluripotent natural world, putting an optimist’s spin on its constant flux. Fuko Ito plumbs the depths of strong emotions in her forgiving plush environments. Christina Yuna Ko reclaims Asian “cute culture” as a unifying diasporic language. Jeannie Rhyu uses light and motion to depict the mutability of feminine expression. Huidi Xiang creates unpredictable sculptural installations that examine the labor cost of pop cultural fantasies. In the name of the moon, the planets, and the stars, these artists transform their sources of inspiration into expressive and fantastical artwork.
Yen Yen Chou explores ideas of transformation and the relationship between humans and nature, particularly the concept that everything has the potential to become something else and obtain a new life or meaning. Using images taken from everyday life as a starting point and recontextualizing motifs such as clouds, raindrops, flowers, and mushrooms, Yen Yen creates a whimsical and magical world of fleeting moments, whether they are sweet or bitter, clear or ambiguous.
Fuko Ito portrays naked, vulnerable creatures called fumblys in their plushy ecosystem. fumblys fill their infinite ecosystem with plush to save themselves from the collapse, fall, and heartache they experience from living among themselves. Plush is a texture that is both soft yet firm — it is able to absorb trauma and mend itself back into shape. Fuko imagines our hearts and emotional capacities to have the same visceral effect of being bruised and healed like plush.
Christina Yuna Ko demarcates a visual lexicon that reflects the cultural inheritance of Korean American experience. Situated within a Western context and entangled within cross-cultural histories, this lexicon becomes an amalgam of “cute culture,” imported cultural artifacts, generational practices, and domestic wares. Using the palette and “flatness” present in cute iconography, Christina explores the way cuteness as an aesthetic category proliferates in the daily life of the diaspora, prevalent in everything from utilitarian goods to pop culture and everyday necessities.
Jeannie Rhyu explores her emotional impressions of reality as she reinterprets her cultural visual traditions in paintings and monoprints. She paints inspired by history, folklore, rituals, fairy tales, and transcultural femininity, as well as the magic of memories. Jeannie is especially fascinated by the mutability of natural elements like light, fire, and water, and how they find a place in ritual practice. She merges the traditional and the contemporary to assemble colorful realms that float between surrealism, folklore, and dreams.
Huidi Xiang makes sculptural objects, installations, and systems to convolute pop cultural products and phenomena, remixing, recontextualizing, and transforming symbols and scenarios of popular media to construct alternative forms and narratives of late capitalism. With her work, she closely observes, records, transcribes, and translates the landscapes of contemporary society. With a cute yet crude sculptural gesture, Huidi’s work ruptures the singular storytelling, revealing the contradiction, joy, tragedy, and absurdity inherent in the making of ideology.
September 6 – 11, 2023
September 6, 2023 5pm – 8pm
September 7, 2023 11am – 8pm
SPRING/BREAK Art Show NYC 2023
625 Madison Avenue
New York, NY
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(text & photo courtesy of the artist and Jeannie Rhyu)