The Fifth Child
How can we envisage the future in a world fraught with trauma? How will the contemporary landscape appear to and affect the next generation? Are we captain of the future or its slave? My work, 'The Fifth Child,' depicts a speculative landscape in which an embryo faces the trauma of former generations.
This series was inspired by my encounters with the New York art world at a moment when historic trauma forms the basis of so many collective identities. During my stay in the city, I noticed that various interest groups, divided by race or nationality, form a sort of power dynamics by talking about their trauma, constructing the city's geopolitical landscape. I recognize that these are important traces of the past in the present. But their very specificity, boundaries, and moral emphases make it difficult for anyone to have a true understanding of history and engage with them in meaningful ways.
My series of lithograph prints, “The Fifth Child,” takes up the idea of internalized histories in a different way. As a stranger, I imagine a space where the scars of many histories can be woven together fluidly, where responses to grief and trauma can form a more contemporary sensibility. It is a space where our individual experiences might bring us together with empathy and solidarity.
But to arrive at these bold new spaces, we must first challenge conservative concepts of history. I have borrowed my title from Doris Lessing's 1988 novel, The Fifth Child. Ben, the dysfunctional fifth child of the family, gives pain to his parents from pregnancy, eventually destroying their conservative fantasies of a perfect traditional family. My prints focus on the embryo as a symbol for subverting existing social values. I imagined a speculative scenario in which fictional mutants affected by the former generation’s trauma can bring about a new phase. My bodily imagery and subject may seem far removed from the history of political struggle. However, I consider the literal space of birth important both in its emphasis on beginnings, as a reinstatement of our shared identity as human, which is, after all, the basis of our struggle for human rights.
다섯 번째 아이 (2020) 연작은 역사적 트라우마가 수많은 집단 정체성의 근간을 이루는 뉴욕의 정치적 상황에서 영감을 받은 작품이다. 뉴욕에 머무는 동안, 나는 인종이나 국적에 따라 나뉘어진 다양한 이익집단들이 그들의 트라우마에 대해 이야기함으로써 도시의 지정학적 지형을 형성하고 있다는 것을 알게 되었다. 나는 이것이 중요한 과거의 상흔이라는 것을 알지만, 이는 종종 다면적인 이해관계에 대한 고려가 결여되어 그 역사에 대한 진정한 이해와 의미 있는 연대를 어렵게 만들기도 한다. 이러한 상황 속에서 나는 수많은 역사의 상처들이 유동적으로 엮여 트라우마에 대한 우리의 반응이 보다 동시대적인 감성 아래에 형성될 수 있는 새로운 공간을 상상하였다.