Salute to A Palm Tree
Curatorial Statement by Venus Lau
Kuo’s series of work during her residency at the 18th Street Arts Center intertwines the soft and warm memories of a family trip in her childhood to the masculinity of territorial identities and global mobilities. Her works are inspired by the cultural diversities and histories of the west coast, bringing her to further investigate the symbols of palm trees, beyond the impressions of the ever-smiling sun and beaches seen in vacational cliches.
The series of work begins with her repeated encounter with the American flags and palm trees, with her refreshing lens to this land. Her series of work is centered with her multiple layers of critical reflections towards these symbols.
The choices of found materials, mediums and ways of expressions provoke us to rethink the everyday perceptions and narrations that are silently embedded in the culture. Some of these traces are subtle, like the hand-stitching by the artist is casting a contrast to the massive and mechanical production of the flags as iconic goods.
Kuo also invites us to her memories, when her father, who served as a navy years ago, brought the whole family to California for a military mission. Their personal memories, though sweet and innocent, were entangled with the grand stage of power relations and identity politics. With the passage of time, the artist has another careful look, and responds to these spaces and boundaries through a documentation of moving images, with emotional and performative touches.
Words by the artist
When I came to California, the local scene and life experience influenced the way I created, I observed that the American economy was closely related to the way of consumption. I obtained the materials needed for creation in the thrift stores everywhere in the United States. When a well-preserved American flag circulates in the thrift market and was bought by me, the reverence for the flag in the United States also symbolizes a spiritual transfer. The palm tree symbolizes victory and peace that is also the most famous in California. I sewed a palm tree on the flag, and hung it on the wall. Let’s salute a palm tree!
Pei-Chi Kuo was an artist-in-residence at 18th Street Arts Center from August – October 2022 with support from the Taiwan Ministry of Culture. Visit her artist profile here.
About the Curator
Venus Lau is an independent writer, curator, and project facilitator based in Hong Kong. She has been an advocate for diverse and engaging approaches to art appreciation, interpretation, and critique. Her writings can be found on printed and online publications. With dialogues and text-based materials being the core of her inspiration, she is passionate about exploring multi-disciplinary expressions and spatial arrangements. In 2021, she curated and performed in “Ghost without shield – Hong Kong Literature / Sound”, a multi-disciplinary performance staging at a moving-image and installation art exhibition.