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WARREN KING: DISPOSABLE CONNECTIONS

Warren

What does it mean to have cultural roots in one country, ethnic roots in another, and to be living in a third?  How does time and place affect our awareness of these multiple layers of connection and disconnection?  Born and raised in the United States, artist Warren King related to his Chinese roots from the perspective of a second generation immigrant.  But a recent move to Sweden displaced him from the anchors that he had in American culture, and this shift in context put a new perspective — and importance — on his ethnic connections.

It was with this new perspective that he began to examine a pivotal experience relating to his ancestry.  A few years prior, King travelled to China for the first time, to the village where his grandparents and generations before them had lived.  During this trip he was approached on the streets by people who, amazingly, had memories of his grandparents from when they had lived there before the Chinese Civil War. People with whom he shared a cultural, racial, and ancestral connection —  but a connection that was severed when his grandparents left that place 50 years ago.  It was a profound experience, one in which the corporeality of his ancestors anchored him to that place, and yet he found that he could only think about it many years later, in a time and place where the connection was only ephemeral.  A disposable connection.

Through his recent works, King examines his own attempts to understand and reconstruct those connections that were lost and rediscovered.  His series of life-size figures, made with only cardboard and glue, is an ongoing project to recreate the residents of his grandparents’ home village one individual at a time.  The commonplace, discarded materials that he uses relate to the nature of the connections he is attempting to reconstruct.   The forms are abstracted, and the backs of the figures are left unfinished, revealing a hollowness and the artist’s meticulous construction.  His work is not so much about the individuals that are represented as it is about his own attempts to understand  them, and also the limitations of these efforts.

Warren King’s Disposable Connections opens on Friday, February 13 and runs until February 20.

2015-02-05