© 2021 Sue Jeong Ka
Picture Brides without Pictures, 2017
Exhibited at The Drawing Center as part of the show, Where Do We Stand?
Curated by Lisa Sigal and Nova Benway
Graphite, forged US ID hologram stickers manufactured in China (typeface: Optima)
Picture Brides without Pictures is a temporary monument that commemorates the Asian female immigrants who arrived in the US in the early 20th century to become wives of Asian plantation farmworkers. By presenting the immigrants’ textual identification, not pictorial ones which are more literal representation of their ethnic and racial appearance, the project emphasizes the layers of mediation and cultural translation enacted on these individuals’ identities, names, as they adapted to survive in a new national context. The commissioned/forged US ID hologram stickers index the state apparatus that legitimate these women as documented citizens, yet by obtaining these stickers from a manufacturer in China, Ka subversively signals how such markers of state of identification are always constructed.
Special thanks to Hidetaka Hirota (Historian, Boston College/CCNY), Michael E. Macmillan (University of Hawaii), and Kim Bobier (Art historian, Pratt Institute).