Julietta Cheung

1224 W Loyola Ave, Chicago IL
January 6, 2017 - January 26, 2017

By the conclusion of this exhibition, the 45th President of the United States will be sworn into office. Though many thought that his victory was improbable, the interests he promoted during his run for office — to (re-)define “American” by birth, race, gender, earning power, geography, and social values — are contextual markers that are as apparently contemporary as they are historically regressive. The varied and extreme positions taken by presidential contenders during the primary and the national elections confirm that contemporary Americans cannot take the definition of “American” for granted. This January 20th marks a reemergence of those ideas about America that briefly flourished during the mid-1800s, the 1920s, and again the 1950s. While much social progress has been made to remake America to more accurately represent its people, in the wake of domestic and global change, many have felt left behind until now.

THE AMERICAN. is a site-specific installation made for Roman Susan. The exhibition invites viewers to explore how “American” is contextually defined and the ideas that fuel these contexts. This work grew out of an ongoing conversation I have with Martin Waldmier, a London-based Swiss curator, who originally pointed me to the newspaper archive at the Library of Congress. We began this conversation in the summer of 2016 and we are interested in the story these historic newspapers could tell about America during the period of westward expansion and the Civil War. Though we were both concerned about the rising global trend of nationalism after Brexit, we did not guess at the way the U.S. presidential elections would unfold. In this exhibition, I employ a now defunct Washington D.C. newspaper from 1857 to research what “American” means in hindsight and from our contemporary positions.

    – Julietta Cheung

Julietta Cheung was born in Hong Kong and has lived in Paris, New York, Chicago, and in several small cities in the northeastern United States. She is currently based in Chicago. This experience of negotiating her place in different cultures and linguistic spaces informs her work. Her projects have been exhibited at various venues in the U.S. and Europe, and in print and online publications, such as Creative Capital’s On Our Radar!, Jacket2, and Tripwire, a journal of poetics. Her writing was published by Kenning Editions. Cheung earned her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she was the recipient of the Art Institute of Chicago New Artist Trustees Merit Scholarship and the Betsy Karp MFA Award. She was an assistant professor of art at Florida State University from 2013–2018, and is currently an assistant professor in the department of Contemporary Practices at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.