By Hyunjee Nicole Kim October 17, 2017

Visitor Welcome Center’s David Bell stumbled across the writer Douglas Kearney’s poem “The Stutter” at a reading when both he and iris yirei hu recalled how their friend, emi kuriyama, a writer and editor, had attempted to bring back her own stutter in her writing. Though that never rematerialized, hu began to think of the stutter as a conceptual tic—one that shifted the temporal expectations of speech and listening, and the political context of such expectations. She found that the emphasis on speaking up and amplifying one’s voice was a curiously American construct, “aligned with individualism and, to a larger degree, capital, because it doesn’t really consider the other person/party/interlocutor.” The stutter forces listeners to be attentive and to take time and consideration to understand.

The entrance gallery (the larger of two) comprises several works that are embedded in the architecture of the space. Tempestt Hazel’s elegant installation, Letters (2017), is lined up on the windowsill: ash, wood, glass, and other found ephemera scattered among ceramic vases. Joeun Aatchim’s installation, A Passionate ‘Female’ Poet Who Committed Suicide with a Brokenheart / Her life remains in haze…Highlighted as a ‘victory of love’ by Alphonse Daudet (2017), is centered squarely on the floor, and two accompanying tessellated mosaic works, Cliff (2017) and Sappho (2017), are propped against the wall. Though elements of the work are somewhat contextualized in its lengthy title, the narrative is broken, literally, into pieces. The mosaics are like puzzle pieces that are supposed to fit neatly into empty splotches delineated by orange spray paint. The artist’s name, too—two Korean words that translate into “good morning”—shrouds the work in further mystery.

Turning to exit the entrance gallery, one notices a Che Guevara quote sliced into the wall above the gallery’s door: “are now waking up from the long, stupefying dream,” once in Spanish and now in English. The Los Angeles–based artist Suné Woods carved the words legibly, but not tidily, as ungainly chunks are taken from the surface. A small hallway, which used to be the gallery’s library, becomes a darkened viewing room for Kearney’s video work, projected on the floor. The floor is slickly tiled in shiny white, and the black curtains that contain the space flutter in the breeze. Kearney’s reading of “The Stutter” draws the listener’s attention to the pauses. As information is communicated, one considers its transmission through an inevitable reconsideration of time.

Joeun Aatchim. Cliff, 2017; marble, smalt glass, unglazed earthenware, foam, concrete, resin, grout; 19 x 30 x 2 in. Courtesy of Visitor Welcome Center.

As with many exhibitions and projects that pass through Visitor Welcome Center, stutter gathers an intimate group of players that hu befriended and became acquainted with during her time living in New York. Sonia Louise Davis’s five-minute video, August Studio Movement Score (2017), was created for the exhibition, chronicling each day of August the artist spent in the studio. Comprising nine channels, the piece does not spell out the chronology of the footage. The rhythm of studio work both coincides and clashes with temporal realities, such as that month’s Charlottesville tragedy. In the same space, Davis also exhibits a number of beautiful color-blocked textiles with electroluminescent wires that can be activated with a button. According to the time of day, the gallery and the works lining the walls respond to the added light. Similarly, Kameelah Janan Rasheed’s “a more convenient season” (after dr. martin luther king jr.’s 1963 letter from birmingham jail) (2017) lines several panes of a large window, at times letting in streams of light, at other times obscuring them.


stutter, co-curated by iris yirei hu and David Bell, was on view at Visitor Welcome Center in Los Angeles, CA September 9 through October 14, 2017.

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