Young Joon Kwak

Artadia Awardee

“Kwak’s innovative sculptures and performances propose new ways of considering bodies by utilizing strategies of masking and camouflage, and rethinking representation and visibility to reimagine what a body can be, informed by BIPOC, Queer and Trans communities.”- Eugenie Tsai, Independent Curator.

Young Joon Kwak (b. 1984, Queens, NY; lives and works in Los Angeles) is the founder of Mutant Salon and lead performer in the electronic-dance-noise band Xina Xurner. They presented solo and collaborative exhibitions internationally at galleries and institutions including Arko Art Center, Seoul; Korean Cultural Center, LA; Commonwealth & Council, LA; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions; and Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff, Alberta. Selected group exhibitions have been held at Hauser & Wirth, New York, Tufts University Art Galleries, Boston; and the Hammer Museum’s biennial exhibition Made in L.A. 2023: Acts of Living.

Kwak’s sculptures and performances use different forms of masking and camouflage to question conventional notions of representation and visibility while imagining new ways for racialized, trans, and nonnormative bodies to exist and thrive in spaces that surveil and police them. Shimmering cast-negative sculptures of bodies optically camouflage against their surroundings, offering viewers an alternative way of embodying the experience of social and spatial camouflage. Through their work, Kwak aims to foster a broader dialogue on visibility, surveillance, and violence against marginalized communities and generate new embodied ways of relating to bodies beyond gendered and raced taxonomies.