The two-channel video LOOKY LOOKY takes its name from a non-manual sign often used to start covertly a conversation about a third person. Without using his hands at all, Mader employs numerous variations on this one sign to reference, among others, a person beside Kim, a person on his phone, and one between the two artists. Kim fluently responds using other non-manual signs, communicating a variety of opinions on the unseen people in question, from exasperation to sly appreciation. In Classified Digits, Kim and Mader each enact just one part of an ASL conversation, with Kim using non-manual signs to give inflection and context to Mader’s handsigns. The artists repeatedly introduce an “every person,” represented by the index finger, into a series of increasingly awkward and often ridiculous social situations.
In To Point a Naked Finger, the artists fail to heed the reprimand that inspired the exhibition’s title. But, ironically, even if they don’t mind their own business, they do avoid literal “pointing.” In LOOKY LOOKY, they evade using their hands entirely, while in Classified Digits the “naked” index finger personifies the “fully dressed” subject in question. Through these eminently relatable parodies of language lessons, which are translated for non-ASL speakers through subtitles, Kim and Mader illustrate a few of the ways this unique language constructs its own universe, rather than just describing it.
About the artists
In addition to the collaborative projects on view here, Christine Sun Kim and Thomas Mader are both active as individual artists. Mader’s main interests relate to national identity, storytelling, and communication, while Kim uses the medium of sound in performance and drawing to investigate her relationship with spoken languages and her aural environment. This is the first solo exhibition dedicated to their collaborations.
This exhibition is organized by Chief Curator Cathleen Chaffee.
Admission to this exhibition is free during M&T FIRST FRIDAYS @ THE GALLERY.