Jesse Chun’s interdisciplinary practice addresses language and its politics to uncover new translations toward poetry, opacity, and the untranslatable. Working with found bureaucratic documents, linguistic hierarchies and histories, Chun engages in various states of (mis)translation to decentre and reimagine colonial narratives.
At Gallery TPW, Chun presents an ongoing body of work that looks to the moon, and to sijo–a traditional form of Korean poetry1–as conceptual sites for “unlanguaging,” a process the artist describes for unfixing language itself. Through video sculptures, film, abstract scores, drawing, and sound, Chun unfixes and rewrites forms of linguistic imperialism into nonlinear modes of language, poetics and being. In doing so the artist asks: what happens when imperialist narratives, the violence of language homogenization, and the bureaucratic documents that enforce this, are disrupted and (mis)translated through poetry, sound, and Korean folklore? Throughout the exhibition, the celestial and earthly are brought together to present language as a constellation of semiotics and sounds, incomplete but whole.
Jesse Chun’s work has been presented internationally at SculptureCenter, New York; The Drawing Center, New York; BAM, New York; Queens Museum, New York; the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, New York (United States); the Nam June Paik Art Center (South Korea); Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto (Canada), among others. Recent awards and fellowships include Art by Translation (Paris, 2022); Ballroom Marfa (Texas, 2021), and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant (US, 2020); Smack Mellon (2020); and the NEA fellowship at ISCP (2019). Chun’s select publications include WORKBOOK (published by Triple Canopy, 2019) and Intangible Heritage (Wendy’s Subway x BAM, 2018). Chun’s work has been reviewed in Artforum, the Brooklyn Rail, ArtAsiaPacific, Artpapers, BOMB, and more. Select public collections include the Museum of Modern Art Library; the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Smithsonian Institution; Whitney Museum Library, and Asia Art Archive in America.