Palazzo della Secessione – Vienna (Austria)
17/02/2023- 16/04/2023

Christine Sun Kim: Cues on Point
Christine Sun Kim’s art brims with rhythm and dynamic energy. Small-format drawings and sprawling murals, internet memes, text messages in public spaces, and banners towed across the sky by airplanes pack a punch and seem to want to explode the confines and constraints of their media. Her drawings are graphical and spare and largely fall into one of two categories: one utilizes the aesthetics of infographics, while the other adopts the formal repertoire of comic strips, notably speed lines to convey action and reaction.

Language, sound, body, identity and diaspora, translation, hierarchization, principles of exclusion, and societal norms: these are some of the vital concerns to which the artist dedicates herself in her formally diverse output. Many of her works share with the audience how it feels to be structurally and systematically excluded from the hearing majority community; to be forever subject to the rules of others and have to fight for opportunities that are available by default to the hearing. Kim’s art is unmistakably political, at its core demanding greater visibility for Deaf people and wider recognition of disability access writ large.

Sign language is a constant theme on the formal and aesthetic level as well as the level of content. In recent years, a growing number of works by Kim have drawn a connection between systems of notation of the sort used in music and dance and the artist’s own graphical representation of sign language. In her works and lecture performances, the artist deftly explores the fundamental structures of American Sign Language, celebrating its inherent beauty and its powerful role as a part of Deaf identity.

Besides the aesthetic qualities of non-auditive modes of communication, processes of translation in all their facets are another focus in Kim’s work. Her practice spans multiple languages, tracking points of convergence and divergence between ASL and English and often occupying both at once. Far from being fixed and immutable, language—spoken and signed, written and sung—is fluid and perpetually changing.

Christine Sun Kim was born in Orange County, California in 1980. She currently lives and works in Berlin.

Programmed by the board of the Secession.
Curated by Bettina Spörr

Kresiah Mukwazhi: Kirawa
In her first solo exhibition at an Austrian institution, Zimbabwean artist Kresiah Mukwazhi will present a new body of textile paintings next to video works. In her mother tongue Shona, the show’s title Kirawa describes a place of sacred resistance: “In this body of work, I am interested in creating moments of an imaginary safe place where we go to seek healing, fight battles, and find answers. I present a society that is at disharmony and disease because the life-bearers of this world are raped and abused every day. I ask who is responsible. When will it end?”

Trained as a photographer and visual artist in Zimbabwe and South Africa, Kresiah Mukwazhi works in a variety of media, including mixed-media collage, sculpture, performance, and video. Her vibrant textile works are often loosely hung on the walls or suspended from the ceiling. Mukwazhi combines materials including canvas, satin, or petticoat, stitching and gluing them together with applications such as sequin. Painted with acrylic and fabric dyes, female figures emerge from the ground. They perform seemingly vulgar and obscene gestures, hinting at the artist’s inquiries into the arduous working and living conditions of female sex workers in her native Zimbabwe’s patriarchal society. Often their last resort for supporting themselves, prostitution further exposes them to exploitation and violence. Against this backdrop of precarization and marginalization, Mukwazhi’s work scrupulously carves out forms of resistance and self-empowerment. Mutual support and encouragement, together with humor as a weapon and means of resistance, are recurring themes in the artist’s work.

Kresiah Mukwazhi was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, 1992, and lives and works in Harare, Zimbabwe, and Cologne, Germany.

The exhibition by Kresiah Mukwazhi is a collaboration between the Secession and Nottingham Contemporary, where it will be presented from 27 May to 3 September 2023.

Programmed by the board of the Secession
Curated by Jeanette Pacher

Jordan Strafer: LOOPHOLE
New York-based artist Jordan Strafer’s primary medium is video. Her part-autobiographical, part-fictitious work reflects the complex nature of racial identity, gender, sexuality, class, and ‘Americanism.’ A key aspect of her practice is the thoughtful yet playful choreography of seemingly antagonistic emotions—both comical and tragic, intimate and factual, familiar and unfamiliar, repulsive and appealing situations appear in an unusually fluid manner. Drawing from true stories, she makes visible that realities are rarely dualistic.

In recent works, the artist less often appears as a performer herself. Make-up, scenery and props play independent roles alongside the protagonists. The recurrent use of stylistic devices such as homemade dolls, masks, face painting, miniature representations, or dummies emphasizes the scene’s artificial nature. Situations that often seem absurd redirect the focus from the plot to our own way of seeing and—through their clearly staged and alienated form—allow a critical stance towards a society defined by questionable moral ideas and injustice.

For her exhibition LOOPHOLE at the Secession, the artist produced an eponymous new short film that deals with a romantic affair between a defense attorney and a juror amid a nationally publicized rape trial in Florida in the 1990s. Rather than merely reenacting the trial, the film focuses on the affair as a potential loophole in the justice system. Strafer depicts the loss of any structure and order and exposes the abuse of power, greed, and corruption that underlay the act of sexual violence. The film references the genre of the erotic thriller, which was popular at the time, and juxtaposes the deeply ambivalent feelings of fear and desire.

Jordan Strafer was born in Miami in 1990. She lives and works in New York.

A cooperation between Secession, Vienna, Index – The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, Stockholm and KINDL – Centre for Contemporary Art, Berlin.

Programmed by the board of the Secession
Curated by Christian Lübbert