“Worlds Otherwise Hidden” at the Kemper @ Hyperallergic
KANSAS CITY, Missouri — It is safe to say that the United States is in the midst of a deep crisis of identity, fueled by nationalism, fear-mongering across the political spectrum, and denial about the legacy of migration. Worlds Otherwise Hidden at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City features work by three artists who materially and abstractly tackle notions of blended culture and identity. The aesthetic commonality of works by Nevin Aladağ, Kimsooja, and Nari Ward, and the overlap in their separate practices of using found objects, creating chance combinations, or cultivating a layering of symbol sets to represent complex definitions of self, create a cohesive exhibition full of inviting surfaces and subtle implications.
Upon entering the gallery space, visitors are greeted by three towering snowman-shaped figures, rendered by wrapping up long, narrow strips of orangey upholstery foam into giant yarn-ball forms, stacking them, and studding them with a decorative bedazzling of discarded battery canisters, Sprague Electric Company resistors and capacitors, and mango pits. These are three pieces from Ward’s 2011 “Mango Tourist” installation. They stand as sentries to another 2011 work, “We The People,” which immediately draws the focus to the back wall of the main exhibition room, with the eponymous phrase in Old English lettering demarked by arcs and fringes of hanging shoelaces sprouting from holes in the wall. The finished letters are legible at a distance and stand several feet taller than the visitors directly in front of them. The size of the works in this room create a sense of bodies, both figurative and politic, which exist at beyond-human scale, and by extension, radiate a kind of passive menace. There are no overt suggestions that the faceless “Tourist” figures mean harm — whether they are themselves the tourists, or they represent a kind of monolith-as-destination-point for tourism, or perhaps the discard engendered by tourism as an industry — or that the “We” in “We the People” intend to exclude you, the individual. However, Ward’s work instigates neither a sense of ease nor welcome.
Read more here…
Nevin Aladağ, Kimsooja, and Nari Ward Create Visual Metaphors for Migration, Exile, and Belonging