Effortlessly dispersed on an otherwise blank sheet, words ‘mother’, ‘father’, ‘all sons and daughters’ and ‘regardless of age or place’ utter in the viewers’ mouths, debuting a startling poem brimming with countless untold tales of new territories and fresh beginnings.
In On Paper, her first exhibition at SoHo’s Spencer Brownstone Gallery, the Brooklyn-based artist Jesse Chun introduces a serene ambiance composed of two series, Landscape and Form, as well as blueprints, a wall-spanning installation of vellum paper blueprints that at first sight seems to be solely composed of arbitrary geometric forms. Akin to other works on view, the said piece stems from immigration forms the artist collected over the years to strip them off from their utilitarian aspects and decontextualize their raison d’être. Freed from the burden of words asking personal questions or dictating requirements, elegantly orchestrated abstract and minimal forms illustrate lurking possibilities beneath these visa forms.
Furthering the depiction of such narrative possibilities and unexplored territories is a series of landscapes in mild tones of pink, green and blue, illustrating otherworldly panoramas—snowy peaks piercingly erecting towards the sky, tempestuous waterfalls bursting with potency or voluminous branches blanketed by blooming flowers. Perplexing charm of these utopian views emerge from pages of passports showcasing landmarks from the countries they belong to. Blown out to striking dimensions, these landscapes of archival pigment prints allow viewers enjoy their unique patterns originally created to serve as watermarks in order to reduce the risk of forging.
Paper no longer simply is the bearer of information regarding one’s immigration status or travels abroad, yet molds into a platform to further experiment for Chun. Indicating the separation between that of actuality and of the officially stated, the expression on paper aids the artist to depict this duality. Under the helm of her re-contextualizing project, papers, each originating from a bureaucratic core, ask questions about belonging, alienation and drifting—to a place, to an identity and to a story. Pursuing a home that is ephemeral, fluid and ubiquitous, the artist invents poems, both verbal and pictorial, embedded in unintended structures.
Jesse Chun: On Paper will remain on view at Spencer Brownstone Gallery until September 17, 2016.
*All images Courtesy of the Artist.