An Intimate Distance: Tenth Anniversary Performance by Ali Van

Saturday, October 26, 2019
Asia Art Archive in America
43 Remsen Street Brooklyn, NY 11201

On a sunny afternoon in October, interdisciplinary artist Ali Van stood atop a chair and addressed the audience that had gathered inside the Brooklyn Heights brownstone. In a calm and measured voice, Van alluded to the troubled state of things in both the US and in Hong Kong, where she had flown from just two days earlier. ‘But if we give ourselves a moment,’ she countered, ‘again it’s that moment of incredibly conscious solitude, we have the opportunity to recede, which allows us to leap further into the future.’

When Van performed An Intimate Distance in the autumn of 2019 to commemorate Asia Art Archive in America’s 10th anniversary, friends and supporters of the organization were invited to look forward to the next ten years, primarily with a sense of idealism and optimism. The paradoxical title communicates the significance of solitude that Van spoke of, as well as the importance of connecting and coming together. Our capacity to experience both conditions would bear even greater weight in hindsight amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Van initiated the first half of the performance with a blessing. She passed around a wooden box containing 183 pieces of multi-colored, hand-braided string attached to slips of typewritten paper folded into triangular, polygonal shapes. Representative of her engagement with solitude over the course of one year, each time-stamped and geo-located ‘prayer’ corresponds to a specific date and place she had traveled, from Mount Fuji to Hong Kong to New York. After writing down their wishes separately, the roomful of participants collectively worked to hang the prayers, each person adding theirs to the line. The collaborative project simultaneously allowed for the quiet reflection that Van described as being so precious.

In the middle of the crowd, Van proceeded to change out of her street clothes into a floor-length gown in vibrant red—a color of celebration. As she revealed a bow that seemed just as tall if not taller than herself, she demonstrated the Japanese martial art of archery known as kyūdō, which she began studying during her time in Japan. ‘They say that it is never really about the target, that the target is always reached if you have a sense of the stages that come before,’ Van said, partly to acknowledge the uncertain outcome of the performance itself. As spectators congregated around her, she trained her arrows toward two simple geometric forms, a rectangle and circle, stacked between the dining room windows on the far side of the room. Though deliberate in her actions, she also left room for spontaneity. After a false start, she shot three arrows that successfully connected with their target.

Van’s efforts, an individual act buoyed by the silent encouragement of the group, mirror the often-unknown trajectory of the future. Appearing like a distant memory, the documentation of the performance captures that feeling of hopefulness as much as it does the impermanence of moments in history. Though it remains unclear where we may be headed, we can continue to be conscious of our solitude even as we long for the intimate gatherings we once shared.

– Mimi Wong, July 2020

Ali Van (b. 1986) feels motility. Her works mark love, change, spirit, and trees, often spelling one hand across many feet, geometry freeing immersive thought in nature. Her commitment finds absolute through living architectures, gastronomic ancestry, silent geographies, and manner song. With 2020 she dedicates to family in Minnesota, feeding forest, raising flours, writing wind, and bathing grandmother. Recent isolates include Robert Rauschenberg Foundation (Captiva, Florida), Inunso (Mt Fuji, Japan), Yaji Garden (Suzhou, China), SoART (Millstatt, Austria), CCA Kitakyushu (Kyushu, Japan). Her forthcoming publication on occasion of An Intimate Distance assesses collective truths and sovereign memory with respect towards time.

Mimi Wong is a writer in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has appeared in ArtAsiaPacific, Catapult, Electric Literature, Hyperallergic, Literary Hub, and Refinery29. Her fiction has been published in Crab Orchard Review, Day One, and Wildness. For her writing on contemporary art, she was awarded an Arts Writers Grant by The Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital. She is also Editor-in-Chief of the literary magazine The Offing and a part-time lecturer at The New School.

Photos by Haruka Motohashi, Michael Holden, and Hilary Chassé


This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

ALL KEYWORDS

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ARTISTS, CRITICS, CURATORS, AND OTHER CONTRIBUTORS

Aisha Khalid, Aki Onda, Aki Sasamoto, Alexander Keefe, Alexandra Chang, Alexandra Munroe, Alf Chang, Ali Van, Amy Lien, Amy WOOD, Annysa Ng, Anthony Tino, Anthony Yung, Arin Rungjang, art history, art institutions, artist interviews, Ashley Billingsley, Ashok Sukumaran, Bahar Behbahani, Bahar Behbani, Bani Abadi, Bani Abidi, Barbara London, Beatrix Pang, Belinda Q. He, Benjamin Moskowitz, Beth Citron, Betsy Damon, Bing Lee, Birgit DONKER, Boon Hui Tan, Boris Groys, Brinda Kumar, Cai Guoqiang, CAMP, Cao Fei, Casey Tang, Chang Chao Tang, Chang Yuchen, Chen Chieh-jen, Chen Tong, Chen Wei-ching, Chen Xiaomei, Chihoi, China, Chitra Ganesh, Chris Wu, Christoph NOE, Christopher Ho, Christopher K. Ho, Christopher Phillips, Chương-Đài Võ, Cici Wu, contemporary art, Cooperativa Cráter Invertido, Cosmin Costinas, David Smith, Desire Machine Collective, Diana Campbell Betancourt, Dinh Q Le, dmp editions, Dooeun Choi, DREAMER FTY, Ei Arakawa, Eleanor Heartney, Elizabeth W. Giorgis, Enzo Camacho, EPOXY Art Group, Erin Gleeson, Eugene Wang, exhibition history, Fang Lu, Farah Wardani, Fei Dawei, FENG Yuan(馮原), Franklin Furnace, Frédéric Dialynas Sanchez, Fully Booked, Furen Dai, fwf, Gaku Tsutaja, Gao Shiming, Gianni Jetzer, Glenn Phillips, Go Hirasawa, Guan Xiao, Hajra Waheed, Hammad Nasar, Heman Chong, Herb Tam, Hiroko Tasaka, Hitomi Iwasaki, Ho Tzu Nyen, Hồng-Ân Trương, Howie Chen, Hsu Chia-Wei, Huang Chien-Hung, Huang Hua-Chen, Huang Po-chih, HUANG Xiaopeng, I-Hua Lee, Iftikhar Dadi, Il Lee, Ingrid Chu, Interference Archive, Jaeyong Park, Jaishri Abichandani, Jane DeBevoise, Jean Shin, Jean-Hubert Martin, Jen Hoyer, Jen Liu, Jennifer Davis, Jewyo Rhii, Joan Lebold Cohen, Joanne, John Pirozzi, John Tain, José Maceda, Julian Ross, Jun Yang, June Yap, Kaho Albert Yu, kate-hers RHEE, Katherine Grube, Ken Lum, Kim Yong-Ik, Kimia Maleki, Kit Yi Wong, Koki Tanaka, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Laurel Ptak, Lê Thuận Uyên, Lee Kit, Lee Mingwei, Lee Weng Choy, Lesley Ma, Levi Easterbrooks, Li Ming, Li Ran, Li Shi, Li Xiaofei, Liang Jianhua, Lin Yilin, Linda Huang, LinDa Saphan, Lisa Ross, Liu Ding, Liu Shiyuan, Louiza Ho, Lynn Gumpert, Lyno Vuth, Maika Pollack, malaysia, Maline Yim, Mao Chenyu, MAP Office, Margaret Lee, Margo Machida, Mariam Ghani, Martha Wilson, Marvin Taylor, media art, Meghan Forbes, Meiya Cheng, Mel Bochner, Miao Ying, Michelle Wong, Michelle Yun, Midori Yoshimoto, Ming Fay, Minoru Yoshida, Miwako Tezuka, Moe Satt, Morgan Wong, Mukaddas Mijit, Murtaza Vali, Museum of Unknown, Nadim Abbas, Naeem Mohaiemen, Nate Hun, new media, Nico Baumbach, Nikhil Raunak, Nonny de la Peña, Nora Taylor, nos:books, Ocean Leung, Onejoon Che, Ou Ning, Pad.ma, Pak Sheung Chuen, Pan An-yi, Park Chankyong, Passenger Pigeon Press, Patty Chang, photography, Pi Li, Polit-Sheer-Form Office, Prem Krishnamurthy, Qiu Anxiong, Qiu Deshu, Qiu Zhijie, Rabbya Naseer, Rania Ho, Raqs Media Collective, Rattanamol Singh Johal, Rebecca Karl, regionalism, Reiko Tomii, Richard Vine, Rina Banerjee, Risha Lee, Rob Smith, Roslisham Ismail a.k.a. Ise, Ruijun Shen, Ryan Lee Wong, Saadia Toor, Sabih Mohd Ahmed, Sadya Mizan, Sam Hart, Samita Sinha, Samsom Young, Samson Young, Sareth Svay, Sean Anderson, Sen Uesaki, Shaina Anand, Shanta Rao, Sharmini Pereira, Shauba Chang, Shen Xin, Shiraga Kazuo, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Simon Leung (梁碩恩), Simon Wu, singapore, Sming Sming Books, Sohl Lee, Son Ni, Song Dong, Sopheap Pich, southeast asia, Stephanie Comilang, Stephanie H. Tung, Stephen Teiser, Steve Locke, Su Hui-Yu, Su Yu-Hsien, Sung Hwan Kim, Sunghee Lee, Svetlana Kharchenkova, Tabaimo, Takahiko Iimura, Takako Tanabe, Takeshi Ikeda, Tammy Nguyen, Tang Kwok Hin, Taro Hanaga, Teresa Kwong, The Dunhuang Foundation, The Otolith Group, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Tianyuan Deng, Tiffany Chung, Tishan Hsu, Tobias Madison, Tom Looser, Trần Minh Đức, Tsherin Sherpa, Uli Sigg, Umber Majeed, video art, Việt Lê, Vivian Sming, Wang Gongyi, Wang Jianwei, Wang Jing, Wang Wei, Wang Xu, Waterfall, William LIM, Work on Work, Wu Shanzhuan, Xen Nhà, Xiaoyu Weng, Xie Xiaoze, Xin Wang, Xu Bing, Xu Tan, YANG Jiechang, Yang Wang, Yayoi Shionara, Yin Xiuzhen, Ying Kwok, Yoon Hwan Bae, YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES, Yu Cheng-Ta, Yung MA, Zhang Hongtu, Zhang Peili, Zheng Shengtian, Zhenzhen Qi, Zhou Tao, Ziying Duan, Zoe Butt