Knockdown Center is pleased to present Jia Sung: Chaos, Whims, Lust, an exhibition that takes the form of a spatialized book. Comprised of figurative ink and gouache drawings accompanied by verse and prose poetry, a narrative that examines the role of the female trickster can be read by moving through the space.
Mythologies of the hero’s journey are historically peppered with violence, and fables of man’s ascension into sainthood tend to be permeated with the shunning, maiming, and killing of threatening female figures. For Chaos, Whims, Lust, Sung replaces canonized patriarchal motifs present in the allegorical classic Journey to the West with narratives of sisterhood, matriarchy, and rebellion, weaving autobiographical elements throughout the epic. Sung toys with the ubiquitous character of the Trickster, a celebrated liminal figure who takes on many faces and traits – idiocy and wisdom, detachment and devotion, wit and somberness – yet rarely rendered female. Instead, clever women in mythology are admonished. Often identified as witches, irreverent women are not seen as playful, but deadly and punished for their games. In this body of work, Sung calls into question the absence of the female trickster figure and emboldens representations of women in mythology by recasting male monks, disciples, and the trickster character of the Monkey King, into monstrous, hybridized femme creatures.
Jia Sung is an artist and educator, born in Minnesota, bred in Singapore, now based in Brooklyn, and received a BFA from RISD in 2015. She was a 2018-2019 Smack Mellon Studio Artist and Van Lier Fellow, and is currently an art director at Guernica and Teaching Artist in Residence at the Hudson River Museum. Her paintings and artist books have been exhibited across North America, including the RISD Museum, Wave Hill, EFA Project Space, Lincoln Center, Yale University, and MOMA PS1, and in publications including Hyperallergic, Jacobin Magazine, Asian American Writers Workshop, and The Guardian. She has taught workshops at organizations like the AC Institute, Abrons Arts Center, Children’s Museum of the Arts, and Museum of Chinese in America.