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Patty Chang | Milk Debt | Livestream Screening & Artist Conversation

May 20, 2020 @ 12:00 pm - May 22, 2020 @ 2:00 pm


Patty Chang | Milk Debt
Livestream Screening: Wednesday, May 20, 12 pm- Friday, May 22, 1 pm
Artist Conversation: Friday, May 22, 1 pm
With artist Patty Chang and curator Anuradha Vikram, moderated by curator Asha Bukojemsky of Marathon Screenings
In English with Spanish interpretation

18th Street Arts Center in collaboration with Marathon Screenings co-present a screening and artist conversation around Patty Chang’s Milk Debt, which will open at 18th Street Arts Center this Fall. Curator Anuradha Vikram, who initiated Chang’s presentation at 18th Street, will be in conversation with the artist, with curator Asha Bukojemsky of Marathon Screenings moderating.

Milk Debt is a multi-part video project of women pumping breast milk while reciting lists of fears drawn from different communities in various geographical regions around the world. The title refers to the idea in Chinese Buddhism where a child is forever indebted to its mother for the milk she gave. Milk Debt is an arrangement that binds us to our history and to the earth, and is considered an unpayable debt. Biologically, breast milk is created when the body starts to produce the hormones prolactin and oxytocin – a hormone also produced when someone is in love. The performance acts as a type of ritual, with the performer channeling the fears of others into public speech. By speaking the fears, the pumper transforms them from the individual into the communal. In a time when people are being impacted by climate change, governmental policies, lack of resources, and pandemics, it is vital to find ways to connect to others, be inclusive and compassionate and find ways of making meaning in our world.

Chang’s exhibition was originally scheduled to open to the public on May 16, but due to COVID-19, has been rescheduled for the fall. Chang reopened participation in her List of Fears in March 2020 after Safer at Home measures were instituted, and the videos showing as part of this livestream event were created from responses submitted during the pandemic.


Patty Chang is a Los Angeles based artist working in performance, video, writing, and installation. Chang emerged from New York’s alternative art scene of the mid-1990s, producing works dealing with themes of gender, language, and empathy. Throughout her career, Chang has challenged the parameters of performance by addressing issues she observes in contemporary society.

Her work has been exhibited nationwide and internationally at such institutions as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, New Museum, New York, BAK, Basis voor actuele Kunst, Utrecht, the Netherlands, the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, Fri Art Centre d’Art de Freibourg, Fribourg, Switzerland, Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester, England, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the M+ Museum, Hong Kong, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Her work received a 2003 award from the Rockefeller Foundation and a 2012 Creative Capital award. Chang holds a BA from the University of California, San Diego (1994).


Anuradha Vikram is a Los Angeles-based writer, curator, and educator who has guest-curated exhibitions for the Craft Contemporary (formerly CAFAM), Shulamit Nazarian, Mills College Art Museum, Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, ProArts, and the DeYoung Museum Artist Studio, and held curatorial positions at 18th Street Arts Center, UC Berkeley Department of Art Practice, Headlands Center for the Arts, Aicon Gallery, Richmond Art Center, and in the studio of artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Vikram is the author of “Decolonizing Culture,” a collection of seventeen essays that address questions of race and gender parity in contemporary art spaces (Art Practical/Sming Sming Books, 2017). 


MARATHON SCREENINGS is a series of salon-style film & video presentations that invites international and LA-based artists to share their work and engage in meaningful dialogue. Taking place at a residence or nonprofit art space, each screening includes a communal dinner and open conversation with the artist and visiting moderator. The program includes films that range from short, conceptual videos to feature-length experimental documentaries, as well as performances and lectures. Intimate and thoughtful, the gatherings allow for invited artists to connect with attending participants and generate critical discussions while sharing a meal. Highlighting minority voices, the films uncover issues surrounding individual identity, representation, and historical consciousness in a shifting geopolitical landscape. The series is organized by Los-Angeles based curator Asha Bukojemsky. 


[Image Caption: Patty Chang, Milk Debt, 2020. 10:24 min. Video still. Courtesy of the artist.]

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