"100 cuts"
co-curated with Laura Kina

April 9- May 9, 2004
Gallery 312
Chicago, IL

Shelly Bahl, Millie Chen, Charlie Cho, Emily Jacir, Robert Karimi, Jung Mee Jamie Kim, Amanda Ross-Ho, Wang Wei and Chien Yuan

"100 Cuts" features local and international artists whose work draws out the intimate connections between body and landscape, how demarcations of land creates a psychological and metaphysical abrasion in the body to address pertinent questions about present cultural and political climate. Ostensibly through the very broad definition of the word "cut" which could refer to a soundtrack as well as an incision, the exhibit encourages the viewer to make connections between violence, memory, the state, geography, and the body.

The idea for the show as well as its title derives from "Leng Tch'e," a Chinese method of torture used in the manchu dynasty, involed the systematic cutting of flesh into one hundred cuts, while sustaining the victim with high levels of opium. Georges Bataille remarked of the famous photograph (in the upper left hand corner) of this punishment that,

"This photograph had a decisive role in my life. I have never stopped being obsessed by this image of pain, at once ecstatic and intolerable...what I suddenly saw, and what imprisoned me in anguish -- but which at the same time delivered me from it -- was the identity of these perfect contraries, divine ecstasy and its opposite, extreme horro. And this is my conclusion to a history of eroticism."

The emotional revelry of the cut/wound is expressed by [through] its contradiction: the abrasion embodies both pain and pleasure, as one can only be known through the other. Who or what is being cut? Who is the victim, who is the survivor, who is the perpetrator? Is the pain self-inflicted and is a cut always an accident? How or when, if ever, will it heal? WHat do we find so pleasurable about the cut?

But the exhibit will also question the nature of the phrase itself. Can a cut be intrepreted as a singular part of a larger selection or whole as well? And what of the physical act? The cut as an act of art e.g., Lucio Fontana, bespeaks of a performative link to body which artists still find valid. Initially the brainchild of Project A  member Chien Yuan, "100 Cuts" evovled into an exhibit theme that raised a diverse host of metaphors. Using Yuan's work as the "title track" of this exhibit all the work together will create a dynamic vision of the cut: as performance, as memory, as sound byte, as painted canvas.

Bataille, Georges translated by Peter Connor. The Tears of Eros.  San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1989.

Shelly Bahl (left)
Jung Mee Jamie Kim(center)
Charlie Cho (right)
Wang Wei (right)
Emily Jacir (left)
Don Lambert (center)
Millie Chen (left)
Amanda Ross-Ho (center)
Robert Karimi (right)
Don Lambert (right)