A term rooted in anthropology, kinship has historically been restricted to the realm of the heteronormative family, validating relationships born of biology and of blood. Close to You embraces a queer framing of kinship in which bonds are forged through affinity and free will. The artists in the exhibition make works that recognize the intimate relationships we form with people, as well as the deep connections we feel with places, objects, and histories. Acknowledging the oppressive forces of systemic racism and homophobia, this exhibition centers the voices of BIPOC and queer artists, who – in spite of marginalization and disenfranchisement – have imagined divergent modes of kinship in the form of chosen families, safe havens, and shared languages.
Close to You includes the work of Laura Aguilar, Chloë Bass, Maren Hassinger, Eamon Ore-Giron, Clifford Prince King, and Kang Seung Lee. Laura Aguilar’s self-portraits frame kinship as a relationship between self and place, presenting the artist’s nude body at rest within a desert landscape – an environment in which she felt a rare sense of belonging. Interconnectedness also materializes in Maren Hassinger’s Love, an installation made of pink plastic bags filled with human breath and love notes. Eamon Ore-Giron’s paintings meld indigenous and craft traditions with Latin American modernisms. Using elemental shapes and patterns, Ore-Giron’s paintings probe the capacity of abstraction to serve as an introspective space, one in which we feel connected to our identities and our origins. Within the intimate photographs of Clifford Prince King, kinship manifests between people, materializing in the everyday rituals and moments of tender embrace shared by Black queer men. Kang Seung Lee’s sculpture, adopting the form of a hammock, provides a metaphorical resting place for ballet dancer and choreographer Choo San Goh, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1987. Finding kinship within history, Lee excavates the memory of this Asian queer artist, preserving a lesser-known legacy susceptible to erasure. And finally, Chloë Bass’ conceptual artwork foregrounds moments of intimacy experienced in the every day, calling attention to typically unexamined acts or exchanges in order to destabilize assumptions about human social behavior.
The six artists featured in Close to You mine the emotional potential of painting, sculpture, photography, and installation, probing the capacity of the visual arts to conjure feelings of kinship – even if for a moment.
Clifford Prince King
us, you and me, 2020
Courtesy of the artist