2016, video installation on High Wall at Inscape Arts (formerly U.S. INS Building), Seattle, WA
D.K. Pan and curator Britta Johnson Discuss LOVE PEACE POWER
Britta: Hi D.K., thanks so much for agreeing to make a video for the High Wall! I thought I’d start off this discussion by asking you about something you said in a conversation about the piece while you were still developing it; you mentioned the visit to Seattle and thesis work of an influential dancer, can you talk a bit about that and some of the other kernel ideas for this project? D.K.: Thanks so much for inviting me to be part of your program and show work on the side of the INS Building. As I think about the concepts I've been working with, its genesis I believe comes from conversations I had with a choreographer/dancer friend, Margit Galanter, about 15 years ago. During that time she was working on her Masters' thesis and exploring the gesture of a hand slowing opening from fist to full extension. For her, it was a movement which signified release, as her mother was in the last stages of her life, as well as a seed idea of similar movements in nature, ie. octopus moving from the center outward, flower blooming, etc. Her investigation really resonated with me, and I've explored it in my dancing, both in isolation with the hand to the full body and specific parts thereof. I believe there's an emotional intensity attached to the gesture as well as a poetic one... what we hold and offer up, what we reveal, our vulnerabilities and the honesty involved in showing one's palms fully exposed. All the stories and memories our hands contain and are able to express. Progressively, I included that simple gesture in a few videos and performances I've made. More recently, in mining the various physical iterations of the body, both collective and individual, expressing resistance in a sociopolitical context; I revisited the Rock, Paper, Scissors game which I played quite often as a child and occasionally as an adult. Rather than a zero-sum interaction which is used to settle disputes, I wanted to highlight the correlation in form between the Rock and the raised fist often expressed in defiance as an empowered act à la Black Power and used by a number of other groups and peoples, the similarity of the Scissor to the peace symbol understood internationally, and the Paper's open palm as religious- mythological expression of compassion and love in addition to it's recent display in the 'hands up' Ferguson protests and Black Lives Matter movement. Drawing on the historical and charged nature of each shape of the hand, it seemed to me a kind of dance, which signified various articulations of protest and pronouncement. Taken together and presented in an altered context, removed from the game, I believe represents a hopeful declaration for the future, drawing on the aggregate spirit of those who have embodied the gestures previously. I'm really curious why you decided to start this program of projecting on the INS building and what the site has to say? Britta: There’s so much packed into those gestures! About the idea to project onto the building, last year, when I first projected a video onto the space during the Seattle Art Fair, my main goal was to find any kind of venue where I could show something. I'm a tenant in the building, and at some point I realized that the wall, which is quite hidden from the street, is directly in the line of sight of the Centurylink Field parking structure and the light rail line, meaning that there was a high likelihood that attendees to the fair would be able to/ forced to see it, albeit from afar. No one else had plans for the porches that evening, so I got permission and set things up. This year I wanted to provide the space to someone else, and I thought it might be good to engage the history of the building a little more. I think of you as someone who responds really thoughtfully to places and has an ability to make art that is both simple and strong, which is a requirement for this particular space. I thought your background as an immigrant to this country might also bring some resonance; the building's history as a processing center as well as a detention center are both intense. I was excited when you first mentioned that you were thinking of using hand gestures, partly because one of the few remaining elements of the building's detention area is a pair of painted hands on the wall where detainees were told to put their hands when they were being searched. But the gestures you are working with mean so many more things. I think your re-thinking the game as one that isn't zero-sum is especially important now, during this world-wide crisis of displaced people and debates about where they are welcome or not, as well as who bears responsibility for creating/ contributing to the instability of their lands of origin. In another line of thinking, one of the interesting aspects of movements of resistance is the dimension of inward communication- that groups are not just signaling to an oppressor, but to themselves, and finding their own strength in each others' communications of strength (an empowered act, as you said). I see that in the gestures, that they have the potential to signal both unity and resistance. Maybe it's related to embodying a communication, which also seems like a dance concern. Do you have other thoughts about how the gestures/ communications might affect different communities? You have been filming Yesler Terrace residents, how is that choice informing the project? D.K.: Thanks Britta for such a thoughtful and generous insights. I love that you are both aware of and mining the history of the architecture in this program. Like swords to plowshares, the transformation of the building from a detention and processing facility for immigrants into a site for cultural production is profound. Yet I imagine the memories and ghosts are still embedded in the walls and inform certain particular expressions; which I am grateful to have made aware with this work. The video is a collection of hands from 11 people. 6 of the individuals belong to an artist collective of which I'm a part, New Mystics, the remaining 5 are from participants in the Youth Media program at Yesler Terrace. Most of the students in the program are recent immigrants and I thought it fitting to include their history as expressed in their hands. In developing the concepts for this work, the phrase of LOVE PEACE POWER became more and more pronounced as a way to describe each articulated shape of the hand and the expressive meaning contained in the gestures. Years ago, I attended a protest march which was organized as a silent procession. The emotional resonance of walking down streets with hundreds of others in relative quiet, hearing our collective footsteps, stays with me and informs of the power contained in communal purpose and presence. As someone who was part of a marching band who performed at many protests and actions, the gathering of bodies observing a kind of speechless code was inspiring and made me clumsily think of the procession as a herd of elephants; potential disruption was expressed but implied. I was imagining such a scenario with this work, where choreography of hands could express dissent, resistance, hopefulness, unity, and love in specific ways removed from slogans and chants; not to diminish the power of the raised voice, rather in homage to the rich history of the raised hand and fist, as agents of the provocative. The charged nature seem akin to an innate talisman which individually and together can summon greater forces.
The stigma (plural: stigmata) is the receptive tip of a carpel, or of several fused carpels, in the gynoecium of a flower.
The stigma, together with the style and ovary comprises the pistil, which in turn is part of the gynoecium or female reproductive organ of a plant. The stigma receives pollen and it is on the stigma that the pollen grain germinates. Often sticky, the stigma is adapted in various ways to catch and trap pollen with various hairs, flaps, or sculpturings. The pollen may be captured from the air (wind-borne pollen, anemophily), from visiting insects or other animals (biotic pollination), or in rare cases from surrounding water (hydrophily). Stigmata can vary from long and slender to globe shaped to feathery. Pollen is typically highly desiccated when it leaves an anther. Stigmata have been shown to assist in the rehydration of pollen and in promoting germination of the pollen tube. Stigmata also ensure proper adhesion of the correct species of pollen. Stigmata can play an active role in pollen discrimination and some self-incompatibility reactions, that reject pollen from the same or genetically similar plants, involve interaction between the stigma and the surface of the pollen grain. - Wikipedia
"Gift of Unseen Stigmatics" is a collaborative project by artists, D.K. Pan and Abigail J. Swanson, involving photography, video, and social practice to investigate the individual body in public space. Over the course of 4 days in July 2016, Pan and Swanson canvased the streets of Seattle in an intuitive search for subjects/performers. They approached each person with an offer of $20 for 20 minutes of time. Brief interviews were conducted - asking for name, age, and background information of each individual. As conversation and stories ensued, Pan and Swanson filmed each person's hands slowly opening. The artists completed 20 portraiture sessions.
"Gift of Unseen Stigmatics" is an anthology and process centered on the performed act of asking for alms as an empowered gesture. The sited body in city streets serves as critique and conscience; the perceived emptiness or need as grievance. Gratitude and grace are offered as gifts revealed in vulnerable actions, in engaged encounters. The poetic form of a hand slowly changing from fist to fingers, unfurling to full extension, contain stories and memories of humanity, and references the botanical shape of desire. As curtains part, there is a reveal of what we hold and release, what we offer, what we hide, what we request - the evidence is marked and made visible in palms open and exposed.
Tsunami Capable Tide Stations > West Coast
2015, single-channel video, audio, 39 min.
Commissioned by the Frye Art Museum and funded by the Frye Foundation.
I undertook a journey down the West Coast of the contiguous US from June to August of 2015 in order to create a video survey of the coastline. Utilizing the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Tsunami Capable Tide Stations as the framework for the project, I conducted land-based observations of the location and filmed each surrounding area at sunset. The final video is a collection of one-minute impressions of the 38 tide station sites of the West Coast. The project serves as a poetic document of place; as well as a commentary on climate change and a homage to communities vulnerable to rising sea levels and tsunamis.
This project was made possible with the support of NOAA’s Tides and Currents Program, Friday Harbor Laboratories, Greater Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association, and the cooperation of federal ports and Coast Guard Stations.
Time Is Memory (Seattle Sky)
2015, skywriting project - video documentation sourced from social media, 2 min
Presented as part of NEPO 5K Don't Run 2015, Seattle, WA. Funding provided by 4Culture
On August 26, 2015, above the skies of Seattle, I staged a skywriting of a text-poem, "TIME IS MEMORY". The poem is an articulation of time's value outside of monetary meaning (as a response to the oft repeated axiom - 'time is money'), a homage to time's passing, the importance of considering memory and loss, and an impetus for reflection on the temporal. The project involved planning, design, and working with a pilot (Oliver's Flying Circus) to execute the vision. This intervention is a reminder to the rapidly developing city, that as we progress forward, it's vital to reflect on the meaning of community and our shared history and place.
Time Is Memory (home)
2015, as part of a 2-week residency on Violet Strays (violetstrays.com), I revisited all the places I've called home in Seattle and marked each location with a stenciled piece, each photo document was accompanied with the GPS coordinates of the sited work.
YES / NO
2015, 2 different posters which were designed and distributed as part of #CapHillPSA, a curated street campaign in response to the rapidly changing Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, WA.
Time Is Memory (Red Wall)
2015, red stenciled letters on red wall, Sound Transit Art Program Capitol Hill Wall Project, Seattle, WA.
Moon On Man
2014, collaboration with MKNZ, stick n' poke tattoo session for Blood Moon publication, Seattle, WA.
Time Is Memory (silent sitting)
2013, a 10-day performance wherein each day I would meditate for 4 hours and invite the public to join me. A person was hired via Craig's List to wear a cloak and be the "designated sitter" for each session. Hedreen Gallery, Seattle. photo by Bruce Clayton Tom.
2013, a sculptural installation of 2 cannabis plants, sod, soil, grow light, canvas tent. As part of ONN/OF Festival, Seattle.
2012, presented at Genre Bender, City Arts Festival, Seattle, WA
As part of MESSINIAN SALINITY CRISIS by Vugs Are Voids Playhouse (D.K. Pan & Susan Robb), photography by Kelly O.
Acts of Ascendancy: the private and public passion of regret
2011, collaboration with NKO, a 7-hour performance/staged reading of Bataille’s Guilty by 4 performers. Smoke Farm Lo-Fi Arts Festival, Arlington, WA.
On hiding an elephant in plain sight: a performance of private acts
2009, collaboration with NKO, a 24-hour performance/reading of Murakami's Wild Sheep Chase by 3 performers - a reader, typist, writer. ArtSparks, Occidental Park, Seattle, WA. drawing by Gabriel Campanario.
TIME IS MEMORY, LOVE
2009, Sound Transit Art Program Capitol Hill Wall Project, Seattle, WA.
Love Song to the City
2008, “Love Song to the City”, Free Sheep Foundation, Seattle. A 3-month, time-based, site-specific storefront window installation of cinder blocks, fluorescent lights, stenciled text, and moss.
Red Right Hand
2007, “Red Room”, MOTEL MOTEL MOTEL at the Bridge Motel, Seattle. Motel room, 2500lbs of table salt, motel artifacts (letters, signs, clothing), tv monitor, single-channel video. photo by Robert Newell.
The Misadventure of Missi the Kalico Kitti
2006, “The Misadventure of Missi the Kalico Kitti”, collaboration with Jon Sim, Tacoma Contemporary, Tacoma, WA. A 3-month window storefront installation chronicling the story of a teenager and her rebellion, through mannequins, various collected art objects, text, and apparel design. photo by Laura Corsiglia.
Sustainability Virus Breeds Non-Toxic Love
2005, Q-tips, salt, disused tires, plastic, Linescape at CoCA (Center on Contemporary Art), Seattle, WA.
2004, "Glow Room", VAIN, Seattle. An installation featuring 3-channel video on monitors, salt, fish, grow lights, mushrooms, and hydroponic cannabis plants, Presented as culmination of a three month residency.
My Mother My Father
2004, "My Mother My Father", SOIL Gallery, Seattle. An installation designed as a 'lightbox' theater within a gallery. Featuring video projection on salt, amplified sound, tv monitor, an architectural structure, and programs of performances and videos by 15 artists.
Amnesia Afterlife: body dreams of elephants
2003, "Amnesia Afterlife: body dreams of elephants", Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle. An interactive installation featuring 4-channel video on 6 monitors, 6-channel amplified sound on 12 speakers, fish, salt, an architectural structure, and a nude body available for the audience to touch for duration of 6-week exhibit.
there is no there there here where you left her bare
2003, an interactive installation featuring salt, Q-Tips, garlic peels, and a live nude body for duration of three-day exhibit. Presented as part of an installation series program entitled 'Human Super Structure'. SAW (Secluded Alley Works) Gallery, Seattle.
Tengu & the White Rabbit
2007, “Tengu & the White Rabbit” – director/performer, cast of 5 dancers/musicians. Chuncheon Mime Festival, South Korea, in Japan at UrBANGUILD (Kyoto), K.D. Japon (Nagoya), Tsuki No Niwa (Mie), Black and Blue (Tokyo), Organ’s Melody (Yamaguchi), Keli (Kitakyusyu) Graf (Fukuoka). photo by Sung Nicholas Kim
Free Sand" 5 min excerpt - P.A.N.
2001, I-Spy, Seattle, WA
"Vermilion. Violet" - P.A.N.
2000, Seattle International Butoh Festival, On The Boards
"Pause" - P.A.N.
2000, Seattle Art Museum
untitled - P.A.N.
2000, as part of The Whole World Is Watching", commemorating the WTO protests, CoCA (Center on Contemporary Art), Seattle, WA.
STart, Sound Transit Art Program, presents a program of temporary public art at the future site of the light rail stations. The projects are a series of installations by regional, established and emerging artists exploring the ever-changing landscape of the neighborhood and the city. Sound Transit is currently building light rail stations connecting Downtown Seattle and SeaTac Airport with the Capitol Hill, University District and Northgate neighborhoods. In addition to permanent sited art works in and around the stations, STart created this program of temporary projects to activate the interstitial times during construction periods when neighborhoods are affected by large-scale excavations and building. STart turns the temporary walls surrounding the construction sites into a public art lab with a rotation of commissioned works from a wide range of artists.
STart - Sound Transit Art Program - Capitol Hill Wall Project
During the 5-year interstitial time when Sound Transit was building the Capitol Hill light rail station, STart, Sound Transit Art Program, presented a series of temporary public art installations by regional, established and emerging artists exploring the ever-changing landscape of the neighborhood and the city. The light rail station site is located in the heart of Capitol Hill, a two-block stretch between Broadway and 10th Avenue. STart transformed the construction wall into a public art lab with a rotation of commissioned works from 60 artists.