NURTUREart is grateful to present Ugly Feeling—a solo exhibition by Bang Geul Han that claims space to represent both highly personal experiences and overtly public manifestations of sexism, misogyny, and violence, as well as setting these accounts face-to-face with anti-feminist statements made by powerful and marginal figures. With intermingled voices and references, Han precariously collages together voices of the perpetrated and the perpetrator, dreams and realities, fiction and nonfiction, carving out the place for confrontation and unresolved feelings.
Through the Gaps Between My Teeth is a generative real-time animation in which the transcript of Donald Trump’s infamous Access Hollywood tape is presented for a moment before its letters are blown apart, swarm, and partially reassemble to form accounts of sexual assault posted to Twitter. Each tweet is sourced from the hashtag #notokay, a call to respond to the Access Hollywood tape by writer Kelly Oxford asking for others to share their first experiences of sexual assault. For sixty hours the video cycles through a cache of over three-thousand personal testimonies posted between October and December 2016.
Rats’ Feet, another generative video installation, looks further back in time, using the transcript of Elliot Rodger’s video titled “Retribution” as its starting point. In May 2014, after publishing his manifesto along with a video in which he vowed to wage a “war on women” as punishment for being denied love and affection, Rodger went on to kill six and injure fourteen people in Isla Vista, California before committing suicide. The jumble of letters from the transcript are continuously swept along the bottom of the frame; one by one, letters rise to momentarily form Twitter messages—describing women’s experiences of sexism and misogyny using #yesallwomen from May to October 2014.
Dear Tomas reworks a sequence from Ingmar Bergman’s 1963 film Winter Light. Through a series of inversions, the unfolding scene of a priest opening and reading a letter is complicated by the inclusion of collaged elements that sometimes obscure and sometimes reveal the facial features of the protagonists. While the voices are in their original Swedish, the subtitles describe the story of a woman writing to a boy, describing how she defended her sister against his assault and received the beating in her sister’s stead.
A series of cyanotypes titled Ice and Garbage form eight narratives that recount Han’s own experiences with sexism and violence. Seven of them are real accounts presented in a dream-like narrative while the eighth is the retelling of an actual dream: during a studio visit a curator is dismissive of her work, asking, “Where’s the joy and pleasure? Why dwell on the same pain over and over?”
Ugly Feeling—along with #notokay, #yesallwomen, and #metoo—claims space for confronting, airing grievance from, and asserting that women’s subjection to sexism, misogyny, and violence is as ugly as it is ubiquitous. The cyclical nature of these manifestations of public discourse make the feeling ever more unresolved and ambivalent. Han’s work reminds us that it’s also an aesthetic experience that needs to be scrutinized, where “ugliness” is something often disavowed, and purposely overlooked.
Bang Geul Han is an interdisciplinary artist working across moving images, performance, text, and code. Born and raised in Seoul, Korea and based in the U.S. since 2003, her work has been shown in venues including The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Queens Museum, A.I.R. Gallery, Cuchifritos Gallery, Essex Flowers in New York City, Galerie Les Territories and Projét Pangée in Montreal, and Centro Internazionale per l’Arte Contemporanea in Rome. Han is a recipient of a number of artist residencies and fellowships including Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) program at the Bronx Museum of the Arts (2016), Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Program (2011–2012), MacDowell Colony (2009), and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2007). She was a 2017 Peter Benoliel Fellow at the Center For The Emerging Visual Artists in Philadelphia, PA. Han lives in Brooklyn, NY and teaches in the Design and Digital Media program at the College of Staten Island CUNY.
1. Still from Dear Tomas, 2018, Single Channel HD Video (09:05s in continuous loop).
2. Detail of Ice and Garbage, 2018, nine cyanotype prints on Strathmore Hotpress watercolor paper, 11 x 14 inches each.