ID, Please at the Korean Cultural Center Washington D.C.
Memory often shapes art. At the Korean Cultural Center Washington D.C.’s current exhibit ID, Please, memories of immigration and mixed cultural backgrounds are the focal points of artistic expression. Featuring pieces from Michelle Cho, YunKyoung Cho, Sammy Lee, Josephine Lee, and Haelim Choi Allen, ID, Please centers around people of Korean heritage experiencing and creating an identity outside Korea. The exhibition includes sculpture, full room installations, paintings, and photographs. While each artist has taken different paths, the recurring themes of split identity, assimilation, and reminiscence take center stage. Throughout the exhibition, these artists show no fear in dredging up uncomfortable and dismaying truths about their experiences. Haelim Choi Allen’s “Assimilation,” for example, features dozens of images of her mother’s passport photo repeatedly pasted on the wall. In “neoltwiggi/seesaw,” artist Josephine Lee lies facedown and seesaws back and forth, a metaphorical description of the many contradictions and balances central to her experience as someone who was born in Korea and lived in Canada, the United States, and South Korea. There is also time to fondly remember. YunKyoung Cho and Sammy Lee built installations featuring hand-sewn linen and “hanji” (Korean traditional paper art), respectively, that beautifully express forms that many Korean immigrants hold dear. Still, the theme of having a foot in two worlds remains a potent force, as seen in Michelle Cho’s work, which emphasizes what her body has experienced during cultural displacement. ID, Please runs to Dec. 3 at the Korean Cultural Center Washington D.C., 2370 Massachusetts Ave. NW. washingtondc.korean-culture.org. Virtual tours available at @KoreaCultureDC on YouTube and Instagram. Free.