Name Against the Same Sound

Workbook, 2017

Name Against the Same Sound 

Jesse Chun
Organized by Howie Chen

Opening Reception: March 14th, 6-8pm
Exhibition dates:
 March 14 – April 14, 2018

Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York is pleased to present a solo exhibition of multi-media works by Jesse Chun, organized by consulting curator Howie Chen (Chen & Lampert) opening March 14 from 6 -8 p.m. and running through April 14, 2018.

Name Against the Same Sound investigates the geopolitical conditions of the English language through examining E.S.L (English as a Second Language) learning resources. Jesse Chun, a New York-based visual artist from Seoul, Hong Kong, New York, and Toronto, draws from a transcultural relationship to language to re-interpret English pedagogy through a multilingual, and non-linear perspective. Chun’s work explores the technological and ideological machinery underlying the process of cultural assimilation and translation, focusing on the hegemony of English and the subjectivization of non-native speakers in the process of learning the language.

Chun underlines the textuality of the exhibition by presenting a space to be read and decoded: appropriated pages from ESL workbooks, fragments of audio from YouTube tutorials, manipulated imagery from standardized tests, and abstracted graphemes are presented on various substrates and media. The installation consists of digital prints on paper and aluminum, sound, video, drawing, and text-based works. Mediated by the process of abstraction and the poetry of translation, Chun’s works consider conditions and aesthetics of readability.

Reflecting on our current climate of communication, the provocation consistent in Chun’s exhibition is a decentering of English as the world’s most dominant, “common” language: Could English ever become secondary? Could visual language come first? Could poetry, or 한글?

Jesse Chun (b.1984 Seoul, South Korea) is a conceptual artist whose multidisciplinary work investigates conditions of language generated by bureaucracy, migration, and systems of communication. She received an MFA from the School of Visual Arts, and BFA from Parsons the New School for Design. Chun’s work has been exhibited and supported by the Bronx Museum of the Arts, ArtCenter/SouthFlorida, Triple Canopy, BRIC, the Brooklyn Bridge Park (solo public commission), Spencer Brownstone Gallery, and Fridman Gallery, among others. Select venues of artist talks and teaching include the Bruce High Quality Foundation University, the Museum of Modern Art, NADA, Parsons the New School for Design, School of Visual Arts, Rhode Island School of Design, and Hunter College. Chun’s work has been reviewed in Artforum, the Wall Street Journal, the Korea Times, Hyperallergic, Asia Literary Review, and Art21.

Howie Chen is a curator and co-director of Chen & Lampert, a creative consulting and artistic management firm based in New York City delivering targeted strategies and incisive solutions to every level of the art world paradigm.  With over 35 combined years of in-depth art world experience, principal curators Howie Chen and Andrew Lampert provide comprehensive services and personalized solutions to artists, galleries, non-profits, institutions and collectors. Currently, Chen teaches at the New York University Steinhardt School and has been a lecturer at the Art, Culture and Technology program at MIT, Parsons School for Design, and Rhode Island School of Design.

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English as a Second Language feels like a misnomer. Few today can afford to make English anything but a first language. It is the lingua franca of international business, including the business of contemporary art. To have a secondary grasp of English is, in a sense, to be classed secondary: a speaker of a secondary language, a member of a secondary culture, or a citizen of a second or third world, to put it in dated diplomacy-speak. Could English ever become secondary; or, at least, could it change hands from its native speakers to the legions of “secondary” ones who far outnumber them? BOMB.


Conceptual artist Jesse Chun plays with the social attributes and political implications of the English language. Having lived in Seoul, Hong Kong, New York (where she is currently based), and Toronto, Chun investigates how ESL texts not only educate the non-English speaker in a language of empire, she also abstracts and resources and makes use of the sounds of English itself in an attempt to demystify the way these sounds—in combination with the submissive attitude needed to learn them—tacitly articulate a world order. The exhibition, Name against the Same Sound curated by Howie Chen, presents a group of highly sophisticated sculptures and wall works that question the influence of English as an agent of imperial design. The Brooklyn Rail 



Although Jesse Chun’s “Name Against the Same Sound” at Baxter Street at the Camera Club of New York revolves around the artist’s investigations into the mechanics of learning a language, namely English, one would be missing the point if one were to read the works solely through this premise. More importantly, Chun’s interdisciplinary exhibition delves into language as form, sound, writing and a process of subjugation in the context of a non-native speaker assimilating to a culture. ArtAsiaPacific

“Language is not transparent.” The reality of that dictum (which has appeared in Mel Bochner’s colorful pieces across several decades) is on full view in Jesse Chun’s latest show, here. Indebted to various text-driven Conceptual practices, Chun’s exhibition nonetheless also functions as a reminder: Often, the chosen medium of text art’s most visible pioneers wasn’t just any old language.  It was English—a fact that can easily slip past the notice of native speakers. Art Forum


This exhibition is part of a series of guest-curated exhibitions at Baxter St at CCNY resulting from an open call for proposals, and is made possible in part by generous support from public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, Steven Amedee Framing, and Yarden Wines.