And then there were none. single channel video,6 min. 56sec. ©2013, edition of 7
performed by Abbéy Odunlami and kate hers RHEE
camera: Aleks Slota
RHEE makes use of one of her ready-made objects to create a disturbing performance of “kissing” between two performers. The tall black male performer ostensibly controls the scene and takes ten kisses from the small Asian female performer, who is wearing a S&M mask. It is a compelling image of violence, domination, and submission, with confusing and vexing gender and race dynamics.
In the most important work from this series, the artist was interested in suggesting the complicated ways racialized and gendered bodies get (re)produced, reduced and essentialized. The multiple layers of meaning in the work are meant to confound notions of cultural and gender stereotypes. The position of the Asian female seems at first one of passivity and obedience through her stoic silence, but then we notice the black male is the one who is the most vulnerable and unease through his performative kisses. The curious confrontation is awkward and both a contradiction and a confirmation to the ways in which Asian female bodies and Black male bodies are highly sexualised as the Other.
In addition, the implicit reference to the Los Angeles riots and the violence between Korean American and African American communities became only comprehensible as the artist began to articulate the work as one that could evoke and be in dialogue with the theory of racial triangulation between Blacks, Asians and others (Whites). According to scholar, Claire Kim, who coined this term, “Asian Americans have not been racialized in a vacuum, isolated from other groups; to the contrary, Asian Americans have been racialized relative to and through interaction with Whites and Blacks. As such, the respective racialization trajectories of these groups are profoundly interrelated.” The viewer of the work occupies the ostensible standard racial perspective, conditioned by White European ethnographic historical frameworks, but in this work they are intentionally forced to wait outside of the frame, observing but not playing a role.
The 1939 book by Agatha Christie, which was also originally called the Ten Little Niggers in direct reference to the Blackface minstrel song, was published in the USA with a new title, And then there were none, and then later adapted and re-titled The Ten Little Indians.
This work is a part of The Chocolate Kiss Project.
Screenings and Exhibitions
TASTE, Montserrat, 28 Nov, Los Angeles, CA, curated by Sionnan Hillier and Antoinette Adams
Berlin Open Studios, 15 – 25 Oct. 2015, invited by Anja Teske
Schwitzkästen, Künstlerhaus Dortmund, 28 August – 4 Oct 2015, curated by Jörg Daniel
Virtual Reality by Real Virtuosity, AHL Foundation, Coohaus Gallery, Chelsea, NY, USA, 16 – 29 Oct 2014, curated by Kyunghee Pyun