Interwoven Dreams

Okyoung Noh, Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design

Collaborators: Dongkyu Yeom, LSA

As an artist, my theme speaks against the stereotyped, flattened, and sidelined narratives of young Asians in art and on the media scene. I adopt a scattered, media-oriented, fluid, ethnographic, and individualized lens to analyze and investigate their stories. So far, I have focused on Asian millennials’ living narratives and personal testimonies via in-depth interviews and discussion, instead of aligning with stereotypical race, gender, and generation boundaries.

Dongkyu Yeom, a Doctoral Student in Asian Languages and Cultures, will be my collaborator. Yeom has in-depth expertise in ethnographic research, cultural and historical analysis, and documentation of narratives. Caroline Yoo, a Korean American artist living in Pittsburgh, and her mother, will be our interviewees, script writers, and performers.

I have participated in the Asian Teaching Artist Exchange Workshop and Joint Program on Socially Engaged Arts Education since 2021 as a representative teaching artist of South Korea and a team lead. Here, I have conducted the fellowship research and international project with one Korean American artist. The conversation with her initiated me to investigate how the American Dream has been depicted and forged amongst the first generation of the Korean diaspora and how it has been newly embodied. Yeom and I will investigate those ideas and aspirations that have evolved across the generations and the borders, from one female body to another. The mother and daughter will exchange their scripts and perform each other’s aspirations through their bodies and voices.

The performance will be documented and projected on multiple screens in Video Studio at the Duderstadt Center. This project will be a crossover art project ranging from ethnographic research and documentary theatre to performance art, video production, and visual archives.

We aim to understand the newly embodied dreams of a better life for Korean immigrants and their descendants in the United States. The new type of solidarity based on a new understanding — which is not simply defined in “hate” or “love” — will appear throughout the process. We will also visually and performatively explore their narratives and share their insightful moments with U-M students who come fromall 50 states and 122 countries.

Project Update

The interactive theater and performance, “aZn luv luv t0ur,” directed and performed by Okyoung Noh (MFA 2024) and Caroline Yoo was presented in the Duderstadt Center on May 11 and 12.

This performance invited audiences to join Noh and Yoo as tour guides in leading an interactive tour engaging with Western online archives fetishizing the Asian female body. The tour physically mapped some of the contemporary digital spaces of racism, sexism, and imperialism that amplify perspectives of sensationalizing and exotification of the Eastern Asian woman such as sub-Reddit communities, porn culture, mail-order brides, and/or memes. In tandem, the performance also mapped the psychological consequences in Yoo and Noh’s lived experiences, in relation to the representation and reproduction of sexual fantasy of “fetishized, sexualized and marginalized Asian women.”

Music: Chien-An Yuan, Caroline Yoo
Video: Caroline Yoo, Jaewon Lee, Seungah Lee
Installation: Okyoung Noh
Stage Staff: Yuchen Wu
Production Help: Carly Lowe, Manali Desai, Yuchen Wu
Stage Tech: Duderstadt Studio Team
Poster: Doyeon Son

This event was supported by Smucker Wagstaff funding and MicroGrant from ArtsEngine.