(Image stills are from “NOH-CHIM” at MAP’s “Losing Yourself” ©estherka)

In the teardrop-shaped walk through MAP’s “Losing Yourself”, kate hers’ video “NOH-CHIM” (2006) rests on the curve of the teardrop-shaped tour. In a show full of investigations on what it means to be a female in the 21st century, “NOH-CHIM” fits in with its examination on hers’ question of identity, conversing with the other pieces to be more than just a cultural dialogue on heritage and environment but also incorporating thoughts on gender and placement. It is a eight-minute looped video of her in South Korea performing happenings, sitting as a guest on a Korean show, posting up person-search posters, and then repeating the same happenings in a space where nobody sees and knows what’s going on except herself and the camera.. and then us, the viewers.

Conversing with hers, it becomes searingly revealed that as viewers, it is easy to lose sight of the overall because of our specific interests–finding comfort in the parts of her video which make sense with our own experiences, finding discomfort in the dizzying displacement so jarringly confronted, or for some, perhaps the reverse of what I just described. The point isn’t that hers is lost, or that we’re now aware of conclusions, or that this is art, or that this is not art, or that this is real and to be dealt with, or that this is a construction and therefore partially fictional–there might not be a point at all. Do we have to find a point? “NOH-CHIM” translates to that which is lost, from Korean to English. How can we ever find a point?

Whether or not our identities are ever discovered through the chaos of uncountable taxonomic categories beckoning our self-division, we can use our stories and experiences and dizziness to recognize potentials for change. Change for someone else, perhaps someone younger, so that they don’t have to go through what we went through. Each new generation is a promise of something potentially greater with unpredictable change.

So the conversation turns with the loop of “NOH-CHIM” onto hers’ current video-in-the-works, “Vanishing Horizon”. The work-in-progress is an artistic documentary, providing some history of the region and its name change, but mostly showing the children of the orphanage and how much love and care they are given from the orphanages’ founder, Tendol Gyazler who became an orphan by accident at a tender young age. There is a lone tree swaying against a backdrop of rolling green hills and cotton-swab-thick clouds. Stacks of rice fill an entire building whose doors are wide open, pigs are in crates at the city market, workers with trucks, blissful children with dirty faces, we get glimpses of the Tibet around Gyazler’s two orphanages. The children joke with each other, throwing up peace signs, skipping down cobbled walkways, swinging high on playsets and doing traditional festivities. It seems no matter where we are in the world, children share a universal trait liveliness and glee when playing, unaware of anything but the present moments.

This project was funded through the Pacific Rim Grant at University of California, inspired by relationships, and realized through collaboration in friendship–all towards recognizing and raising awareness along with funds for two orphanages in Tibet.

With kate hers, the viewer grows to see art’s ability to instigate change in dialogue: away from engaging others in our dizzying search to settle–at times, inherited–displacement, and towards helping the future’s children enjoy life without the distraction of questions which may never get answered.

To see her work in progress, Click Here.

“Losing Yourself” at MAP will be up until March 27th, 2010–Be sure to visit!

Ellice Park

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