Migrating Identities

Migrating Identities // YBCA
San Francisco, CA.
Migrating Identities on view from June 28 – September 29, 2013 at Yerbe Buena Center for the Arts, features the work of eight artists — Michelle Dizon, Ala Ebtekar, Naeem Mohaiemen, Meleko Mokgosi, Wangechi Mutu, Yamini Nayar, Ishmael Randall Weeks, and Saya Woolfalk. Betti-Sue Hertz, YBCA’s Director of Visual Arts and curator of Migrating Identities, in her essay for the exhibition catalogue writes, “currently based in the United States, they collectively have connections to such diverse countries as Bangladesh, Botswana, India, Iran, Japan, Kenya, Peru, and the Philippines. Born between 1969 and 1981, their work is profoundly informed by their deep relationships with multiple cultures, which were forged by their shared experience of travelling frequently between disparate home sites.
Guided by their ability to move fluidly between cultures, and drawing from the uniqueness of their individual journeys, these artists reveal the ways in which their identities have been transformed by the confluence of mobility, cultural retention, and personal history. Their art is evidence of the ever-changing experience of immigration, which eschews conventional narratives focused on socio-economic status, cultural negotiation, and assimilation.
These eight artists share an urgency to reveal the ways in which culture is created by the confluence of historical events and individuals that are significant to a specific time and place. They also share a desire to create an imaginary place where new social orders and alternative histories can be realized. The value of a specific place and its particular history is the basis for these artists to embrace, alter, or interve with the conventions of contemporary art practice to address larger global issues such as colonialism, war, daily life, the vernacular, and history.
Collectively, the works in Migrating Identities function as a provisional bridge to the future, brimming with utopian desire and a belief that art can lead us out of the traps of history toward a more imaginative present. If the migration of artists is any sign of where we may be going, these artists remind us that local identity is one viable way to resist encroaching globalism.”