WonJung Choi – “WHERE ARE YOU FROM?”
January 26 – February 19
VCUarts and the Anderson are pleased to present “WHERE ARE YOU FROM?”, an exhibition by VCUarts Art Foundation Program adjunct faculty member WonJung Choi. Choi is the recipient of the 2021 Excellence in Adjunct Research Exhibition, which includes a research and production support stipend and culminates in an exhibition at the Anderson, VCUarts’ on-campus gallery.
In “WHERE ARE YOU FROM?” Choi uses computer modeling and digital fabrication techniques to develop a radical alternative history: Positioning the prehistoric Lowenmensch (Lion Man) and Venus of Hohle Fels (Venus of Willendorf) figures as primordial ‘first parents’, Choi charts the strange morphology of a tangled, speculative family tree. Protected from evolutionary pressures, Choi’s fantastic race is free to iterate its intergenerational transformation as something like a formal exercise. And the results do not disappoint.
Riffing on the current fascination with biological ancestry—driven by readily available and widely marketed genetic testing—Choi’s fictional ‘begats’ is a suggestive counterpart to humankind’s own development. The resulting installation is as striking in its scale and physicality as it is compelling and provocative in its vision.
Artist On Site
The artist will be on site at The Anderson to welcome visitors to her exhibition 12–5pm on Friday, February 5th.
Choi will give an artist talk via Zoom at 12pm on Friday, February 12th. Please join us!
I investigate the process of mutation and evolution undertaken by diverse organisms in order to adapt to their current surroundings. This process reflects my own evolving identity through the continuous interactions between myself and the current culture and society I live in. The structure of my identity remains open – it is always in a process of “becoming.”
My current work is a natural extension of previous projects centered around the body as a metaphor for certainty, hybridity, and the evolution of cultural identity in time of precarity. As the Korean American I now look inward to the triple-helix structure of DNA in recent projects. In 2017, I conducted extensive research regarding my own DNA via National Geographic’s Ancestry DNA kit, Geno 2.0. with Helix, both to explore personal ancestry and gene-based therapies. In these results which allowed for a more direct investigation of the nomadic past and research into human evolution based on migration, I traced the migration of my ancestors to Northeastern Asia.
As DNA test technology does not identify one’s cultural or artistic aspects, and tells nothing of the influences acquired in a global landscape, my current project makes visible a present and future of identity by complicating DNA as an identifier and connector rooted in art historically driven imaginaries — a cultural evolution.
Read more about WonJung Choi’s fascinating project, research, and process on the detailed proposal that she submitted for the Excellence in Adjunct Research Exhibition.
WonJung Choi was born and raised in Seoul, Korea and currently lives in Virginia and teaches at Virginia Commonwealth University in the US. Choi has investigated the process of mutation and evolution undertaken by diverse organisms in order to adapt to their current surroundings. This process reflects her hybrid identity through the continuous interactions between herself and current culture and society she has involved. Her series of sculptures, paintings, drawings and installation explores the power of her every changing identity in the making.
Choi received her MFA in Fine Arts from School of Visual Arts in New York, USA and her BFA and MFA in Sculpture from Hong-Ik University in Seoul, Korea. She has been awarded residencies at Museum of Arts and Design and Artists Alliance Inc. (AAI) in New York.
She has been exhibited nationally and internationally at venues such as Wave Hill (New York), Bloomberg NYC, Real Art Ways (USA), Gwangju Museum of Art (Korea), Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art (New York), Cuchifritos (New York), Mixed Green Gallery (New York), Space cottonseed Singapore, Islip Museum (USA), Creative Art Workshop (USA), Art Place (Seoul), H.P France gallery (Tokyo) and ARARIO Gallery (Korea).
Her works are in the collections at Samsung(Korea), Swarovski (USA) and ARCHEUS (UK).