“Categorizing or separating groups of people based on background for divisive purposes does not lead to growth but to a deterioration of our connection as human beings. It’s important to remind ourselves of our histories, including those on migration and identity, to work towards a better future.”– CYJO
MIXED (2010-2017) is an exhibition exploring families of “mixed” races, ethnicities, and cultures and is adapted from a project titled Mixed Blood by the artist CYJO. It portrays families in cities CYJO has lived in—New York City, Beijing, the Washington D.C. metro area, and most recently Miami. MIXED captures these families and their experiences in interviews and large-format photographic portraits taken in their homes. Thus, through words and images, MIXED probes identity in cross-cultural contexts.
While this series has been exhibited internationally, it addresses these families’ experiences in a U.S. context for the first time in its presentation here in NYU’s Kimmel Windows. Before the Supreme Court’s Loving v. Virginia decision in 1967, U.S. laws banned interracial marriage. Also, the U.S. used the concept of “mixed blood” to justify its colonialist constructions of race and power and to oppress generations of Indigenous and Black populations. This played out in the “one drop” rule denying rights to anyone with any African heritage and “blood quantum,” a contrived measurement the U.S. uses to dispossess Indigenous peoples of their lands and identities.
The families seen in MIXED, like so many we know, present a persistent truth: human migration is a story reiterated and shared across many histories. Yet, what does it mean to live in a family of mixed heritages, cultures, citizenships, and contexts? These families’ voices offer us a variety of views into supportive, conflicted, and complex personal relationships, offering both the intimacy of family contexts and the scope of larger societal frames. These individuals and their families impart specific vantage points on different backgrounds and cultures as lived experiences, offering their personal stories as they lay claim to the racial identities and cultural backgrounds that connect us.
Rather than the post-race rhetoric of color blindness, MIXED underlines transcultural and global identities complete with shared histories of exclusion, dispossession, and false categories that divide. MIXED doesn’t deny racial tensions, stereotypes, or experiences of exclusion, and its portraits and personal stories sometimes reflect dreams for the future. Some of its individuals voice their belief in an idealized myth of an imagined America where opportunity is available to everyone and multiple cultures live side-by-side. Yet at the same time these stories can undermine such ideals in describing personal experiences that directly counter them. Exploring these contradictions might help us to further critique our histories and the way we live our lives today.
Born 1974 in Seoul, Korea and based in Miami, CYJO (pronounced see-joe) is a Korean American artist that works mainly in the photographic medium. She is most known for KYOPO (2004-2009), a photographic and textual project about American immigration and identity through the lens of the Korean ancestry. Her first major work in China, Substructure (2010), is a photographic, video and textual portrait series documenting internal migration with Chinese migrants in Beijing. As an artist who has lived in various urban contexts (DC Metro Area, NYC, Beijing, and now Miami), CYJO analyzes different cultural nuances and sometimes contradicting perspectives with her body of work, recognizing plurality in societies as well as confining cultural frameworks among shifting sociopolitical landscapes. In her works that focus on figurative and textural portraiture, CYJO continually questions this notion of categorization further examining our articulated human constructs, encouraging those profiled to define themselves. She explores how culture, life experience, tradition and modernity shape both the individual and collective identity and how society influences the alteration of tradition and culture.
CYJO’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including: The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., Asia Society Texas Center, Houston, JANM Museum, Los Angeles, Venice Architecture Biennale, Venice, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chengdu, Today Art Museum, Beijing, T. Art Center, Beijing, Liang Dian Design Center, Beijing, China Millennium Monument Museum of Digital Arts, Beijing, CFCCA, Manchester, Dalian Museum, The Art Atrium, London and The Korea Society, NYC. www.cyjo.net
Kimmel Windows (founded in 2003) is located on LaGuardia Place and West 3rd Street just one block south of iconic Washington Square Park. The Windows exist as a unique cultural destination at the heart of New York University in historic Greenwich Village, providing space for exemplary public exhibits. These 13 ground floor vitrines offer 3 dynamic exhibitions a year. The Windows operate under the umbrella the Provost’s office, at the heart of NYU’s Art in Public Places initiative which facilitates the display of art in outdoor spaces around campus. We offer professionally curated, thoughtful, and engaging exhibitions organized by NYU graduate students, faculty, departments, and programs, resulting in a program that represents the wide range of scholarly discourse at New York University.
For additional information or materials, contact:
Pamela Jean Tinnen, 347 634 2938 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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