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Young Joon Kwak


Young Joon Kwak

Photo by Christopher Richmond

Artist’s Statement

I work in multiple disciplines, including sculpture, performance, and community-based collaboration to propose different ways of viewing our bodies “beyond the skin”—as mutable and open-ended sites of potentiality unbound by racist, transphobic, and sexist hierarchies so often embodied in western art and historical narratives. I use plastics and composites as physical, aesthetic, and conceptual material to rethink themes of toxicity, hybridity, body plasticity, queer ecologies, and assemblages. Unruly movements and a swirl of bodily fragments, traces, and queer gestures embody resistance against and recuperation from the heteronormative gaze and the violent effects of objectification, re-orienting us toward new forms of intimacy with different bodies and new transformative potentialities.

My art practice presents a multi-faceted and inclusive model for world-making through direct community engagement and collaboration. Alongside my sculptural practice, I frequently perform in alternative art spaces and queer nightlife venues with my diva-dance-noise band Xina Xurner, and collaborate with my community through my collective project Mutant Salon to create participatory performances and installations and to provide a platform for others to reach a broader audience with their own artwork. I want my art practice to be a source of empowerment for queer and transgender/gender non-conforming communities of color, for us and other marginalized bodies to feel valued and seen as beautiful in art.

Website: www.youngjoon.com

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EDUCATION
2014 Master of Fine Arts in Art, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
2010 Master of Arts Program in the Humanities, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
2007 Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL 

SELECTED SOLO, TWO-PERSON & COLLABORATIVE EXHIBITIONS
2022
All About Love, Arko Art Center, Seoul, South Korea (two-person show with Sara Sejin Chang; catalogue)
2021 Club Homo Hill, Korean Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA
Spartan Ruin, Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles, CA
Spartan Skin, MSU Union Gallery, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
2020 G.L.O.W., Frieze LA, Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles, CA (collaboration with Oren Pinhassi)
Dilectio, Cerritos College Art Gallery, Cerritos, CA (catalogue)
2019 Shining Palimpsest, Cloaca, San Francisco, CA
2018 The Cave, Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity, Banff, Alberta, Canada (catalogue)
CAVERNOUS, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA (collaboration; catalogue)
2017 Hermy, Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles, CA
2016 Exorcises, Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles, CA (collaboration)
2014 Born Again [Again], Satellite, Seoul, South Korea
Mother Spill, Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles, CA
2012 Un-Body, Happy Dog Gallery, Chicago, IL (two-person show with Josh Minkus)
2010 Eating Without a Face, Roxaboxen Exhibitions, Chicago, IL 

SELECTED PERFORMANCES
2022
Everything That Feels Dies And Comes Alive…..Why Do You Need A Mother?, The Box, Los Angeles, CA
2021 Xina Xurner, Navel, Los Angeles, CA
Remote Intimacies, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York, NY (online)
2020 Xina Xurner, Deli Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2019 Xina Xurner, Sisters, Portland, ME (Organized by Maine College of Art)
Bondage of Pronouns, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA
Motherhood, Wattis Institute, San Francisco, CA (collaboration with Kim Ye)
Mutant Salon + Mulan, Make Up!, Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA
2018 Mutant Salon, Out of Turn, Serendipity Arts Festival, Goa, India
Ain’t I a Womxn, Los Angeles Historic State Park, Los Angeles, CA (catalogue)
Xina Xurner, Art Museum of the National University of Colombia, Bogota
de la Calle, Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (collaboration with Rafa Esparza)
2017 Performing Sculpture, Shoot the Lobster, Los Angeles, CA (collaboration with Matt Savitsky)
Burn Slow, The Box, Los Angeles, CA
Where I am My Mother, Where My Mother is Me, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (collaboration with Kim Ye)
2016 Mutant Salon: Festival de las Muertas, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Shape Shifters (Xina Xurner), Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles, CA
Mutant Salon: We Make Each Other Beautiful, The Broad, Los Angeles, CA
2015 Xina Xurner, Pavillon Vendôme Centre d’Art Contemporain, Clichy, France.
All the Instruments Agree, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (curated by Aram Moshayedi)
Attack Sustain Release Decay, Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2014 N (enter) S, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA
Mutant Salon, REDCAT, Los Angeles, CA
Xina Xurner & Narcissister, Night Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Mutant Salon, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA 

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2022
Planet Earth, the Environment and Our Future, WaterFire Arts Center, Providence, RI
2021 Staying With the Trouble, Tufts University Gallery, Medford, MA
The Skin I Live In, Lyles & King, New York, NY
Ridykes’ Cavern of Fine Gay Wine and Videos: Hauser & Werk Bitch: Don’t Be Mad At Us!
Hauser & Wirth, New York, NY
I Am Not This Body, Tyler Park Presents, Los Angeles, CA
Stoking the Flame, Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA
2020 Visual Imaginaries: Grappling with Boundaries of Identity and Self, Center for Business & Management in the Arts, Claremont Graduate University (online)
Illumination: 21st Century Interactions with Art + Science + Technology, San Diego Art Institute, San Diego, CA
MMCA 2020 Asia Project: Looking for another family, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea
(as part of Kang Seung Lee’s installation + screening Imaginaries of the Future)
glimmered through the actual square, Deli Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2019 A Good Way to Invent the Future, Ditch Projects, Springfield, OR
NJSeoul: New Art from the Korean Diaspora, Gallery Bergen, Paramus, NJ
Condo, Antenna Space, Shanghai, China
This Ready Flesh, Mother Culture, Los Angeles, CA
Queer Intimacies, Human Resources, Los Angeles, CA
Mulan, Makeup!, Taiwan Academy, Los Angeles, CA
Queer California: Untold Stories, Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA (curated by Christina Linden)
Show Me as I Want to be Seen, Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA (catalogue)
2018 Out of Turn, Serendipity Arts Festival, Goa, India
Dae-Bak Super Cool, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA
take care, Gas, Los Angeles, CA
Commonwealth & Council, 47 Canal, New York, NY
Demolition WoManhood, Skibum MacArthur, Los Angeles, CA
NO LONGER YOURS, Anonymous Gallery, Mexico City, Mexico
All Hands on Deck, Ben Maltz Gallery, OTIS College of Art & Design, Los Angeles, CA
(curated by Kate McNamara)
2017 Body + Camera Festival, MANA Contemporary Chicago, Chicago, IL (screening)
2016 Ours is a City of Writers, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
(curated by Suzanne Hudson, Simon Leung, James Nisbet)
My Skin is My Krustle (Pink Marble), Guggenheim Gallery, Chapman University, Orange, CA (catalogue)
Mystery Theater Sports Bar, Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO
Shapeshifters, Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles, CA (curated by Tim Goosens)
(Signal), Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY
FUCK! Loss, desire, pleasure, One National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, CA
2015 Mystery Theater Sports Bar, Machine Project, Los Angeles, CA
The Last Five Years, The Nightingale, Chicago, IL (screening)
Make Over, Southern Exposure, San Francisco, CA
In a Plain Brown Wrapper, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL (catalogue)
Outfest Platinum Showcase, REDCAT, Los Angeles, CA (screening)
Et Autres Identités…, Pavillon Vendôme Centre d’Art Contemporain, Clichy, France
2014 The New [New] Corpse, Sector 2337, Chicago, IL
Outfest Platinum Showcase, REDCAT, Los Angeles, CA
2013 Demolition Woman, Guggenheim Gallery, Chapman University, Orange, CA (catalogue)
Slippery Slope, Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL
2012 Suitable Video, Regina Rex Gallery, New York, NY
All Good Things Become Wild & Free, HF Johnson Gallery of Art, Carthage College, Kenosha, WI (catalogue)
The Dragon is the Frame, Gallery 400, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL
2011 Space In, Space Out, Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago, IL
2010 Black & White & Read All Over, NP Contemporary Art Center, New York, NY.
Objects & Personification, Chicago Filmmakers, Chicago, IL (screening) 

AWARDS, GRANTS & RESIDENCIES
2020
Artist-in-Residence in Critical Race Studies, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Korea Arts Foundation of America’s Visual Artist Award, Los Angeles, CA
3Arts Residency Fellowship, Santa Fe Arts Institute, Santa Fe, NM
2019 Artist-in-Residence, Maine College of Art, Portland, ME
Art+Tech Artist-in-Residence, Cerritos College, Cerritos, CA
2018 Summer Artist-In-Residence, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA
Emerging Artist Grant, Rema Hort Mann Foundation, New York, NY
2016 Art Matters Grant, Art Matters Foundation, New York, NY
Artist Community Engagement Grant, Rema Hort Mann Foundation, New York, NY
2015 Teaching Fellowship, Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA
2014 Neely Macomber Travel Prize, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
2012 3Arts Residency Fellowship, Ragdale Residency, Lake Forest, IL
2011 Fall Artist-in-Residence, Ox-Bow Fall Arts Residency, Saugatuck, MI
Ox-Bow Scholarship for Sculptors, Joan Mitchell Foundation, New York, NY
Critical Fierceness Grant, Chances Dances, Chicago, IL
2010 Artist-in-Residence, ACRE (Artists’ Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions), Steuben, WI
Artist Project Grant, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Research Travel Grant, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
2008 Community Arts Assistance Program Grant, Department of Cultural Affairs, Chicago, IL 

TEACHING & MENTORSHIP EXPERIENCE
2022
Lecturer, California State University, Long Beach, Graduate Critique Course
2021 Lecturer, University of California, Riverside, Beginning Sculpture (2 sections)
2020 – 2021 Visiting Assistant Professor and Artist in Residence in Critical Race Studies
Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Objecthood and the Performance of Race, Gender, and Sexuality, Casting Bodies and Monuments
2020 Program Mentor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Low-Residency MFA Program, Chicago, IL (remote)
2017 – 2019 Instructor, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia
Performance & the Camera, Performing Objects, Video: Performing Objects
2017 Lecturer, University of California, San Diego, Intermediate Sculpture
2016 – 2015 Teaching Fellow, Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA, Advanced Sculpture
2012 – 2014 Teaching Assistant, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Intro to Digital Photography, Advanced Painting, Advanced Sculpture, Intro to Sculpture, Visual Culture & Literacy II

VISITING ARTIST LECTURES & PANELS
2021
Visiting Artist for graduate critiques, California State University, Long Beach
OTIS School of Art and Design (lecture and studio visits)
Spartan Skin: Impressions From the Symbol of Campus Pride, University Interdisciplinary Colloquium
Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI (lecture)
University of California, Riverside (lecture and graduate studio visits)
University of California, Irvine (lecture and graduate studio visits)
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ (lecture and graduate studio visits)
2020 University of Art and Design, Linz, Austria (lecture)
Sci-Arc, Los Angeles, CA (lecture)
Visual Imaginaries: Grappling With Boundaries of Identity and Self, The Center for Business & Management of the Arts,
Claremont Graduate University (Panelist with Carolyn Castaño & Dr. Nizan Shaked)
Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI (lecture)
Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY (lecture)
2019 University of Southern California, Los Angeles (lecture and graduate studio visits)
Maine College of Art, Portland, ME (lecture, graduate studio visits, performance)
University of California, Santa Barbara (lecture and graduate studio visits)
University of California, San Diego (lecture and graduate studio visits)
University of California, Los Angeles (lecture and graduate studio visits)
2018 Breaking Boundaries:  Shifting the Landscape, Social Agency Beyond Aesthetic Provocation, ArtBo: Fin De Semana, Bogotá, Colombia (panelist)
Artistic & Curatorial Strategies of Activism, Representation, & Collective Space, The Feminist Art Project Convening
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (Panelist with Courtney Fink, Sarah Williams, and Cauleen Smith)
2017 California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA (lecture and graduate studio visits)
Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, CA (lecture)
University of California, San Diego, CA (lecture)
Contemporary Sculpture Panel, International Sculpture Conference, Kansas City, MO (Panelist)
School of Visual Arts, New York, NY (Conversation with Gordon Hall)
2016 School of Visual Arts, New York, NY (graduate studio visits)
University of California, Los Angeles (lecture)
Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA (lecture and workshop)
2013 The Limits of Sculpture, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
(Panel Moderator, with Suzanne Hudson & Megan Luke)
2010 Contemporary Art Workshop, University of Chicago, IL (lecture)

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
Kim Hae Lee, “[New Look] Young Joon Kwak,” Art in Culture, July 2022 issue
Hayoung Chung, “Young Joon Kwak and Sara Sejin Chang’s Divine Futures,” Frieze, 2022
Jenni Sorkin, World of Art: Art in California (London: Thames & Hudson, 2021), p. 203
Jeanne Dreskin, “What Do Spartans Want? A Fragmentary Exchange With Young Joon Kwak,” Monument Lab Bulletin, 2021
Joshua Reiman, “Body of Work: A Conversation with Young Joon Kwak,” Sculpture Magazine, 2021 (in print)
Julie Tolentino, Editor, “Provocation,” TDR/The Drama Review, Vol. 64, Issue 3, 2020, p. 2
“Community: Young Joon Kwak,” Shondaland, 2020 (video)
Benjamin Sutton, “The 10 Best Booths at Frieze Los Angeles,” Artsy, 2020
Andrea Whittle, “The Most Talked-About Moments From Frieze Los Angeles 2020,” W Magazine, 2020
Bridget Esangga, Editor, “On View: Young Joon Kwak,” School of the Art Institute of Chicago magazine, 2019 (in print)
Charles Long, “Young Joon Kwak by Charles Long,” Issue # 147, BOMB Magazine, 2019 (in print)
Sara Radin, “Queer Stories Reign Supreme at the Oakland Museum of California,” Vice, 2019
Sura Wood, “Gender Fluidity & Mutable Identity,” The Bay Area Reporter, 2019 (in print)
Maximilíano Durón and Alex Greenberger, “15 LA Artists to Watch,” ArtNews, 2019 (in print)
Erik Benjamins, Andrew Berardini, Ginger Carlson, Tao Fei , Maeve Hanna, Catherine de Montreuil, Ryley O’Byrne,
Daniella Sanader, “Review: Young Joon Kwak,” Canadian Art, 2018 (in print)
Maeve Hanna, “Young Joon Kwak at Walter Phillips Gallery,” Akimbo, 2018
Ceci Moss, “Young Joon Kwak: Mutant Dreaming,” CURA. 28, 2018 (in print)
Yxta Maya Murray, “Beautiful Mutant: Young Joon Kwak,” Artillery Magazine, 2018 (in print)
Jad Dahshan, “Embodying and Rebodying With Young Joon Kwak,” Chicago Maroon, 2018
Jeanne Dreskin, “Critic’s Pick: All Hands On Deck,” Artforum, 2018
Meg Whiteford, “Critic’s Pick: Young Joon Kwak,” Artforum, 2017
Catherine Wagley, “5 Art Shows to See in L.A. This Week,” LA Weekly, 2017
Yxta Maya Murray, “Summer Happening at the Broad: Mutant Salon Saved the Evening,” Artillery, 2016 (in print)
Alicia Eler, “In ‘Shapeshifters’, Artists Explore the Always-Fluid World of Identity,” Crave Online. 2016
Alicia Eler, “Mutating The Broad with Mutant Salon,” Crave Online, 2016
Zachary Small, “Art that Slows Down How We Assess Gender,” Hyperallergic, 2016
Sharon Mizota, “Review: Mutant Salon at Commonwealth & Council,” LA Times, 2016 (in print)
Víctor Albarracín, “Art Los Angeles Contemporary Art Week,” Terremoto, 2016 (in print)
Priscilla Frank, “9 Truly Avant-Garde Musicians You Should Add To Your Playlist Right Now,” Huffington Post, 2015
Mary Anne Kluth, “Review: Makeover,” Art Practical, 2015
Alicia Eler, “Young Joon Kwak’s Trans/Feminine Visions,” Hyperallergic, 2014
Carol Cheh & John Tain, Interview, Performance Now, KCHUNG, 2013
A-J Aronstein, “Review: Young Joon Kwak & Josh Minkus at Happy Dog Gallery,” New City, 2012 (in print)
Caroline Picard, “In Flux Samples: An Interview with Young Joon Kwak,” Art21, 2011

PUBLICATIONS AS AUTHOR
“Mark Aguhar,” Brooklyn Rail. July – Aug, 2016
“Salon Talk: A Conversation with Patrick Jackson,” Bad at Sports, September 17, 2013
“Salon Talk: A Conversation with Michael Ned Holte,” Bad at Sports, July 9, 2013
“Nothing Great Gets Done Alone,” Area Chicago #10, 2010

GALLERY: Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles, CA

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