YOUNG JOON KWAK (b. Queens, NY, 1984) is a LA-based multidisciplinary artist, founder of the performance collaborative Mutant Salon, and lead performer in the band Xina Xurner. Kwak’s sculptures, video, sound, and performances push the plasticity of materials and use found objects, costuming, props, and digital technologies to propose different ways of viewing and interpreting bodies, objects, and spaces as mutable and open-ended. Kwak collaborates with her community of femme, queer, trans, POC artists and performers as the founder of Mutant Salon, a roving beauty salon and platform for performances that experiment with heterogeneous forms of social engagement to explore alternatives for inhabiting a world in which “other” bodies are increasingly objectified, exploited, and policed. Kwak has performed and exhibited at venues internationally, including the Hammer Museum, the Broad, REDCAT, ONE National LGBT Archives, Commonwealth and Council, and Night Gallery (LA), Regina Rex and Smack Mellon (NYC), Southern Exposure (San Francisco), MCA Denver, and Pavillon Vendôme Centre d’Art Contemporain (Clichy, France). Kwak was recently awarded an Art Matters Grant, and an Artist Community Engagement Grant by the Rema Hort Mann Foundation. Kwak holds an MFA from the University of Southern California, MA from the University of Chicago, and BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.



Mutant Salon: Exorcises. Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles, CA. 2016

Born Again [Again]. Satellite, Seoul, Korea. 2014

Mother Spill. Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles, CA. 2014

Mutant Salon: Who Are Worth Our Love. Gayle & Ed Roski MFA Gallery, USC, Los Angeles, CA. 2014

Slow Dance (collaboration with Christopher Richmond). Gayle & Ed Roski MFA Gallery, USC, Los Angeles, CA. 2013

Mutant Salon: Beautython. Gayle & Ed Roski MFA Gallery, USC, Los Angeles, CA. 2012

Un-Body/Rite of Trans-Mortality . Happy Dog Gallery, Chicago, IL. 2012

Eating Without a Face. Roxaboxen Exhibitions, Chicago, IL. 2010

Tears From My Pussy. University of Chicago, Chicago, IL. 2010



Mutant Salon: Festival De Las Muertas. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA. 2016

Xina Xurner. Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles, CA. 2016

Free Mutant Salon: We Make Each Other Beautiful. The Broad, Los Angeles, CA. 2016

Xina Xurner. Pavillon Vendôme Centre d'Art Contemporain, Clichy, France. 

Attack Sustain Release Decay. Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. 2015

N (enter) S (Collaborative performance with Morgan Lee Gerstmar). LACE, Los Angeles, CA. 2014

Mutant Salon. REDCAT, Los Angeles, CA. 2014

Xina Xurner & Narcissister.  Night Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. 2014

Mutant Salon. CALARTS, Valencia, CA. 2014

Xina Xurner. ACRE Projects, Chicago, IL.  2011

Death Rites. Roxaboxen Exhibitions, Chicago, IL. 2010




24 Hour Charlies, Los Angeles, CA.

Mystery Theater Sports Bar. Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, CO.

Shapeshifters (curated by Tim Goosens). Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles, CA.

(Signal) (curated by Alexis Heller). Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY.

FUCK! Loss, desire, pleasure. One National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, CA.


Mystery Theater Sports Bar. Machine Project, Los Angeles, CA.

The Last Five Years. The Nightingale, Chicago, IL.

All The Instruments Agree. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA.

Make Over. Southern Exposure, San Francisco, CA.

In a Plain Brown Wrapper (Ten-year retrospective exhibition of Chances Dances, curated by Oli Rodriguez). University of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

Outfest Platinum Showcase. REDCAT, Los Angeles, CA.

Et Autres Identités… Pavillon Vendôme Centre d'Art Contemporain, Clichy, France. 

AmazoNIGHT. Three Days Awake, Los Angeles, CA.


The New [New] Corpse. Sector 2337, Chicago, IL.

Outfest Platinum Showcase. REDCAT, Los Angeles, CA.


Demolition Woman. Guggenheim Gallery, Chapman University, Orange, CA.

Slippery Slope. Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL.


Suitable Video.  Regina Rex Gallery, New York, NY

All Good Things Become Wild & Free.  HF Johnson Gallery of Art, Carthage College, Kenosha, WI. 

The Dragon is The Frame: Inspired by the Life and Work of Mark Aguhar. Gallery 400, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL


Space In, Space Out.  Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago, IL

My Own Worst Enemy: Portraits of Self-Multiplicity.  Milwaukee Ave. Art Fair, Chicago, IL

Please Touch the Artwork. Chicago, IL.


Black & White & Read All Over. NP Contemporary Art Center, New York, NY.  

Objects & Personification.  Chicago Filmmakers.



Art Matters Grant, Art Matters, New York, NY. 2016

Artist Community Engagement Grant, Rema Hort Mann Foundation, New York, NY. 2016

Teaching Fellowship, Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA. 2015

Neely Macomber Travel Prize.  USC, Los Angeles, CA. 2014

3Arts Residency Fellowship.  Chicago, IL. 2012

Critical Fierceness Grant.  Chances Dances, Chicago, IL. 2011

Ox-Bow Scholarship for Sculptors.  Funded by the Joan Mitchell Foundation. 2011

Artist Project Grant.  University of Chicago. 2010

Research Travel Grant.  University of Chicago. 2010

CAAP (Community Arts Assistance Program) Grant.  Department of Cultural Affairs, Chicago, IL. 2008

Bergen County Artists’ Guild Award.  Department of Parks, Hackensack, NJ. 2002



Guest Lecturer. University of California, Los Angeles. 2016

Guest Lecturer. Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA. 2016

The Limits of Sculpture (Panel with Suzanne Hudson & Megan Luke). USC, Los Angeles, CA 2013

Guest Lecturer. Contemporary Art Workshop. University of Chicago, IL. 2010



Ragdale Residency, Lake Forest, IL. 2012

Ox-Bow Fall Arts Residency, Saugatuck, MI. 2011

Harold Arts Residency, Chesterhill, OH. 2011

ACRE (Artists’ Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions), Steuben, WI. 2010



Master of Fine Arts, University of Southern California.  2014

Master of Arts in the Humanities, University of Chicago.  2010

Bachelor of Fine Arts, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  2007



“Mark Aguhar.” Brooklyn Rail. July – Aug, 2016.

“Salon Talk: A Conversation with Patrick Jackson.” Bad at Sports. September 17, 2013

“Salon Talk: A Conversation with Michael Ned Holte.” Bad at Sports. July 9, 2013

“Nothing Great Gets Done Alone: No Coast & Roxaboxen.” AREA Chicago, #10: Institutions & Infrastructure. 2010



“Summer Happening at the Broad: Mutant Salon Saved the Evening.” Yxta Maya Murray, Artillery Magazine. 2016

“In ‘Shapeshifters’, Artists Explore the Always-Fluid World of Identity.” Alicia Eler, Crave Online. 2016

“Mutating The Broad with Mutant Salon” Alicia Eler, Crave Online. 2016

“Art that Slows Down How We Assess Gender.” Zachary Small, Hyperallergic. 2016

 “Review: Mutant Salon at Commonwealth & Council.” Sharon Mizota, LA Times. 2016

“Art Los Angeles Contemporary Art Week.” Víctor Albarracín, Terremoto. 2016

“9 Truly Avant-Garde Musicians You Should Add To Your Playlist Right Now.” Priscilla Frank, Huffington Post. 2015

“Review: Makeover.” Mary Anne Kluth, Art Practical. 2015

“Young Joon Kwak’s Trans/Feminine Visions.” Alicia Eler, Hyperallergic. 2014

Mutant Salon/Xina Xurner interview with Carol Cheh & John Tain, Performance Now, KCHUNG. 2013

“2012: The Year That Was.” Vern Hester, Windy City Times. 2012

“Review: Young Joon Kwak & Josh Minkus at Happy Dog Gallery.” A-J Aronstein, New City. 2012

“White Rabbits; Xina Xurner.” Vern Hester, Windy City Times. 2012

“In Flux Samples: An Interview with Young Joon Kwak.”  Caroline Picard, Art21. 2011

“This Week’s Picks.”  Lauren Weinberg, Time Out Chicago. 2010

“Young Joon Kwak and Doomsday.”  Caroline Picard, Lantern Daily. 2010

“In Conversation With Young Joon Kwak.”  Aay Preston-Myint, Monsters & Dust. 2009