Yoon Cho: Nothing Lasts Forever

Fuse Box & Women and Their Work

April 3 - May 10, 2008
by Angela Ahlgren

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      Detail from
      Yoon Cho, Hysterosalpingogram, 2007
      Archival Ink-jet print
      32 x 70 inches

      View Gallery

      Yoon Cho’s Nothing Lasts Forever, a video and photography exhibition at Women and Their Work Gallery, ruminates on the layers and structures of identity. Season’s Greetings (2004), one photograph from her Nuclear Family series, is a send-up of a holiday postcard in which Cho and her husband pose behind a chair, empty except for a bright yellow baby-shaped cutout. The other photos in the series show the couple engaged in bourgeois domestic activities—washing the car, painting the walls and jogging—all with the cartoonish baby cut-out toddling alongside them. The series lampoons the bourgeois expectation of fertility and procreation, the baby’s garish presence interrupting the couple’s serene domesticity.

      Cho’s Self-Portrait series suggests a more wistful view of women’s fertility. In one self-portrait, Hysterosalpingogram (2007), an X-ray photo highlighting an ovary covers Cho’s abdominal area, as her face tilts longingly skyward. In the companion self-portrait, Map (2007), Cho stands in profile beside her home, an aerial sketch of a suburban landscape superimposed over her body. The self-portraits juxtapose the subject’s vulnerable body and the stark medical and cartographic grids, critiquing the violence with which medical and societal notions of fertility land on women’s bodies.

      The Nuclear Family and Self-Portrait series are the stand-outs in this exhibition, their placement on opposing walls in the center of the gallery highlighting both personal longing for and cultural critique of the ever-elusive nuclear family. Other pieces are less successful. The Blurred series, several pairs of portraits in which one of each pair blurs out the faces of its subjects, and the Persona series, a trio of videos in which Cho performs pedestrian tasks in neutral mask, comment on identity in much more general terms and lack the complexity of Nuclear Family and Self-Portrait.

      Angela Ahlgren is a Ph.D student in Performance as Public Practice at The University of Texas at Austin, where she studies Asian American and queer performance. She is also a taiko performer, and has begun working on her dissertation on women and taiko drumming in the U.S.

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