The newest installation at the Estevan Art Gallery and Museum's Gallery I, “Once upon a Modern Time” by Jihee Min, uses several mediums to discourage stereotypes and myths that exist in North American society about Asian women.
Min, who was born in Korea but lives in Canada, was at the EAGM on July 12 for an opening reception. She explained the different components involved with “Once upon a Modern Time,” including videos, blossoms, origami and her long hair.
One of the videos is on a computer, and the other is shown via a projector. The computer video depicts her desire to fit in with society and her awareness of her appearance.
The projector video features a performance of her trying to sell ice cream in Montreal, while sporting a traditional, multi-coloured, striped Korean costume that is typically reserved for little girls.
“At that time, I was very interested in the illusion of the third space,” said Min.
Min said she has always had a “love-hate” relationship with her status as an Asian woman in western society. She has critically studied how Asian women are viewed by the public, and how they are stereotyped by the media as submissive, silent and sexually available.
Some of those media images are on the back of the paper used for the origami in her exhibit. People at the reception were encouraged to take the paper, fold it according to 14 steps, and attached it to her “hair.”
The hair that she sported for the exhibition wasn't her own. It was made of synthetic hair and black fabric. It stretched 12 metres onto the floor. She said Asian women are expected by many in western culture to have blossoms in their long, flowing dark hair.
Min said her natural hair isn't long, flowing or dark.
The origami and the blossoms are other stereotypes of Asian women that Min wants to debunk.
Modern society is more accepting of people from other cultures, she said, but racism and stereotypes still exist.
“I believe an action or a change only comes after awareness,” said Min. “I guess I tried build my own identity by bringing out problems, and I hope that you, as a viewer and as a participant of my installation, can also find your own answers, because I'm not just trying to make, I'm trying to find my own questions and my own answers to my problems.”
"Once upon a Modern Time" will be on display until September 1.