as if i was a thing i could do in the dark: Dylan Mira

January 20 – February 17, 2019
Photos by Mario Gallucci

“There is no landscape that is not obscure, underneath its pleasing transparencies, if you speak to it endlessly.” —Édouard Glissant

What do you want to be when you die? I’m going to be something that has no borders.” —Kim Hyesoon

A site-specific exhibition by Dylan Mira, as if i was a thing i could do in the dark is the artist’s first institutional solo presentation. Her multimedia installation shape-shifts through the gallery as it considers ecofeminist ritual practice and diasporic memory. Through its intentional hesitation, Mira questions our relationship to imposed and imagined borders: ones that demarcate territories and influence social relations, grant travel across worlds, and refigure the individual body.

The exhibition centers around 밤시각 Night Vision (2018), a video inspired by two family stories of transgression across a century: Mira’s uncle driving his motorcycle across the 38th parallel to North Korea and her great-grandmother who lived as a shaman under the Japanese Occupation when the practice was outlawed. The work traces the artist’s 2018 journey in South Korea from the matriarchal island of Jeju to the preserved ecosystem of the Demilitarized Zone. Following reports that endangered tigers (a shaman spirit animal and symbol of Korea not seen since the war) may live in the DMZ, Mira began to rehearse the animals’ gestures at the border, in hopes of connecting to them. Filming with an infrared night camera, a glitch appeared in the footage repeating and layering scenes, making figures seem to double, even to fly. With this accident she was transposed as a tiger across the most guarded military landscape in the world.

Mira’s research-driven artistic and writing practice disrupts dominant systems of logic and capital, delving into non-productive sites of mourning, rebelling, reveling, wondering. as if i was a thing i could do in the dark accesses this research as a mode of world-making and expands 밤시각 Night Vision into an installation collaging documentation and objects from the artist’s recent archive. Here videos of traditional and spontaneous ceremonies, the DMZ shopping mall, karaoke sessions, and landscapes of forests and waterfalls are projected over layered surfaces with writing and ephemera. Bodily experience and the mundane are privileged, as a sculpture of a giant earring back made from the artist’s dream emerges as a readymade fragment. The opening night will conclude with an improvised sound performance featuring the artist and her sometimes collaborators, 미친년 (Saewon Oh and Kwonyin). As these parts poetically collide, enmesh, and collapse within the exhibition space, the project offers a fleeting yet lucid reconsideration of ancestral rites of passage and the shifting ground they ride. From the difficulty of returning to physical and political histories, Mira pieces together her own path, which engages negation as a site of transformation. She weaves the inheritance of loss into a polyvocal undersong: how do we go from here to there, from there to here? How might we get lost and found and lost again? It is undone, it is undoing. These moments of erasure do not ask to be made whole; their illegibility is honored as our truest form of witness.

Public programs

Sunday, November 14, 6-8pm at c3:initiative
Dylan Mira: Building cosmologies writing workshop
As the wall between worlds goes paper thin we will write on it, listen, make shadows, holes, and spills. Our chance and channeled moves will consider such architectures as the diaspora, the memory palace, and the underworld. Open to all, no writing experience necessary.
Location: c3:initiative, 7326 N Chicago Ave.

Saturday, January 19, 8-9pm at Disjecta
Opening night sound performance with Mira and 미친년.
Location: Disjecta, 8371 N Interstate Ave.

Sunday, February 17, 4-5pm at Disjecta

sidony o’neal: insolubles
A breathing meditation + notes on birds, birding, birders. Plainsong additions to a way of being alone while everyone is gathered. I can’t pretend you aren’t here, so I won’t leave. No q no a.
This performance will be presented on the final hour of Dylan Mira’s solo exhibition, as if i was a thing i could do in the dark.
Location: Disjecta, 8371 N Interstate Ave.

as if i was a thing i could do in the dark:
Featuring: Saewon Oh, Young Joo Lee
Translation: Young Joo Lee, Genevieve Yim
Support: Seoul Museum of Art, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Bobby Jablonski

Dylan Mira was born in Lawrence and grew up in Seoul, Hong Kong, Hiroshima, Philadelphia, and now lives in Los Angeles. Weaving personal fragments into larger geopolitical histories, Mira trespasses master narratives to consider what fact alone cannot render: violence, ghosts, love. Poetry, ephemeral materials, and improvisation connect across her videos, text, sculptures, and performances. Refusing the colonial legacy of knowledge as domination, this embodied research makes its own cosmologies.

Mira has presented widely at sites including Seoul Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions), ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, Park View/Paul Soto, Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, Performa, and Participant Inc. She has received awards from Rema Hort Mann Foundation and the Foundation for Contemporary Art. After dropping out of high school, Mira graduated with a BFA from School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA from University of California Los Angeles.

미친년 (pronounced ‘michinnyeon’) is a derogatory term for “a crazy woman” is Kwonyin and Saewon Oh of Korean-American descent, inhabiting the liminal, crossing the threshold with sound, invocation, incantation, merging underworld and overworld into sacred profane ecstasy.