“Young Joon arrives with her posse at 11 PM for her gig at the rooftop lounge of the Ace Hotel, introducing me to them as her sugar daddy. Love this fantasy (wish I could help in that way, dearest!). Minutes later Xina Xurner ignites the firestorm that rips through the night skyline of LA’s glittering corporate skyscrapers. I’m sitting, civilly, in the front row, Clark Kent glasses on, taking notes. Xina focuses a laser on her mark: it wasn’t just me, it was the straight/het/male drag I had not yet given up performing for the world, ugh. As she zeroed in, heading straight for me, I knew the last remnants of this casing were going to be broke open. Now she’s on my lap, howling, screeching, licking my smothered face; Clark Kent glasses bent, held somewhere between our compressed bodies. The transformation of my identity is one of several reasons I have sought her out for this interview. Whether in sculpture, music, video, or the collaborative Mutant Salon that she founded, Young is working with the precision of a ninja and the heart of a shaman to wear away limiting beliefs, so we can imagine new bodies, new selves.”Read More
Young Joon Kwak is a 34-year-old artist living in Los Angeles who works primarily across sculpture, performance, and video to rethink bodies and space. Aiming to transform the perception of queer, trans, marginalized bodies by reimagining their form, functionality, and materiality, Kwak is interested in the, “unique potential for the hybrid language that's formed between these mediums to counteract the dehumanizing effects of the objectification, policing, and misrepresentation of othered bodies endemic to this world.” Moreover, the artist is the founder of Mutant Salon, a beauty platform for experimental performance collaborations with their QTPOC artists and performers while they are also is lead performer in the electronic-dance-noise band Xina Xurner. The artist recognizes that it’s impossible to represent all queer identities in such an exhibition, saying that “queerness can never be fully contained, it is always on the horizon, the not-yet here and now, the unknown.”Read More
“The vast majority of people don’t give a fuck about art.”Read More
Gallery Chat with Young Joon Kwak at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (SF)
Friday, Mar 8, 2019 | 12:30–1pmRead More
Young Joon Kwak, founder of Mutant Salon, a traveling beauty platform for queer, trans, femme, POC artists and performers, riffs on the Greek deity Hermaphroditus, the embodiment of fluid sex and gender. Kwak's sculpture "Hermaphroditus's Reveal I" (2017), a wave-like arc of fiberglass cloth and resin coated in gold enamel, relates to Cahun's masks and intentional enigma. Installed on the floor, the metallic surface appears to harbor an unseen figure on its hands and knees; a pair of hands edges beyond the curtain, and fingers from a third tease a back flap, hinting the veil is about to be lifted and the truth exposed.Read More
In work that takes the form of sculpture, performance, and video—and is often made in collaboration with other artists—Young Joon Kwak is concerned with imagining different ways of conceiving human bodies and the spaces they occupy “through manipulations in form, functionality, and materiality.” After moving to L.A. in 2012, Kwak founded Mutant Salon, a roving beauty salon/performance platform conceived to bring together queer and trans communities, people of color, and women in anti-institutional ways similar to underground shows frequented by the artist’s noise band Xina Xurner (with Marvin Astorga).
“If artists are meant to produce new forms of beauty, I would align myself with a sort of mutant beauty,” said Kwak, whose interests include considering “traditional patriarchal standards of beauty in relation to the history of white supremacy, imperialism, and current social justice issues.”Read More
by Young Joon Kwak
ATTENTION SISTERS I call to you for she is not with they or it, but the he is equivalent to me in explicit rapture for this thrilling divination. You are invited to partake in this joyous revolution, together, you and I, she, he, they, we, and it. All of us in as one, united in the pink luminosity of atmospheric indulgence. Come, cum see, be free.
You appear to me translucently, glimmering in the ecstatic glow of a rainbow eclipse. Perhaps you bend at the thighs in eagerness, indulging your many layered categories. And the lights are glistening like she and you, ambiguous as the [im]personal pronouns that we no longer conform to for we feel no need of it here, ambiguous as the snails are in their nature, sex, and origin. You, rather, we embody the snail at the core of this joyous measure, representing the atypical, asymptotic, amorphous.
Yet, there is darkness here, I remember she. This is why you have found himself in this space that embraces what is not considered the norm in society. You do not need to worry your soul, dear heart. I have you and I hold you in my blissful embrace, in grandeur, and tender love.
Text by Maeve Hanna
Co-Organized by Katya Min.
Young Joon Kwak (b. 1984, Queens, New York) is a Los Angeles-based multi-disciplinary artist working primarily through sculpture, performance, video, and collaboration. Kwak’s work aims to change how we view our bodies by reimagining their form, functionality, and materiality—from static and bound to pre-inscribed power structures, to an expanded sense of bodies and their environs as mutable and open-ended.
Kwak is the founder of Mutant Salon, a roving beauty salon/platform for experimental performance collaborations with their community of queer, trans, femme, POC artists and performers. Kwak is the lead performer in the electronic-dance-noise band Xina Xurner. Performances and exhibitions include: The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; The Broad, Los Angeles; REDCAT, Los Angeles; and ONE National LGBT Archives, Los Angeles; Regina Rex and Smack Mellon, Brooklyn; Southern Exposure, San Francisco; Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Pavillon Vendôme Centre d’Art Contemporain, Clichy; and the Art Museum of the National University of Colombia, Bogotá.
During summer 2018, Kwak was Artist-in-Residence at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions. Kwak received the Rema Hort Mann Foundation’s Emerging Artist Award in 2018 and the Art Matters Grant in 2017. Kwak received an MFA from the University of Southern California, an MA in Humanities from the University of Chicago, and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Kwak’s work has been reviewed and featured in Artforum, Art News, Artillery Magazine, Hyperallergic, and LA Times, among others.
“It unambiguously represents the masculine and feminine, slipping along surfaces and into tiny beautiful crevices across the exhibition space. Like the snail, THE CAVEslides through the viewer’s imagination, instilling a stance of perfect harmony for a non-patriarchal position within the gallery space.”
—MAEVE HANNARead More