Posts in feature articles
School of the Art Institute of Chicago Magazine, Fall 2019

Young Joon Kwak creates sculptures, performances, and videos for display in a gallery setting, in addition to performing with their dance/noise band Xina Xurner, which they founded in Chicago in 2011 for the “queer/femme weirdos and noise freaks” outside of commercial art galleries. At Xina Xurner shows, after moving to Los Angeles, Kwak found a community of amazing queer, trans, people of color, womxn, and mutant artists and performers who inspired them to start Mutant Salon, a platform for collaborative performances and installations through which Kwak collaborates with their community to collectively imagine new futures that celebrate their survival, resistance, healing, and transformation.

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Broadly / Vice: Queer Stories Reign Supreme at the Oakland Museum of California

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.”

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Bay Area Reporter: Gender fluidity & mutable identity

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.

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ArtNews 15 Los Angeles Artists to Watch

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.”

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Canadian Art, Review of The Cave


“This was a celebration of a fierce partnership aglow and it was one of the most tender things that I had ever seen”

—Erik Benjamins

“Find a cave and push it inside out. Cast its ends and its beginnings, its never-ending beginnings, in mercurial metals that move upward. Does it even have an inside anymore? In the gallery, a mirrored fountain points to those eyes that surveil you and bodies like yours; in the film you blur their faces.”

—Ginger Carlson

& reviews by Andrew Berardini, Tao Fei , Maeve Hanna, Catherine de Montreuil, Ryley O'Byrne and Daniella Sanader

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Artforum Critic's Pick: “All Hands on Deck” at Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design - Artforum International

Young Joon Kwak has titled Hermaphroditus’s Reveal I, 2017, after the mythological child of Aphrodite and Hermes, often portrayed in Greco-Roman sculpture as a feminine figure with male genitalia. Through its coyly placed hands and arabesque ripples of resin-coated fiberglass cloth, the work conjures an abstraction of the act of revealing.”

-Jeanne Dreskin

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