Inspired by the life of double agent Alice Hyun (1903- 1956??), “Alice & Alice: in free fall,” pays tribute to the first Korean American born in Hawaii and the first Korean American to gain US citizenship through birth. This new body of work is the first solo exhibition of artist and performer Professor Caroline Yoo, who continues her research practice of amplifying stories of forgotten women, the women who rebelled, the women who were too loud for history.
The exhibition is on view January 19 through February 16, and Yoo will perform on February 8 and 15.
Born while Korea was under Japanese colonization, Hyun believed in an independent one-nation Korea. The radical pioneer devoted her life to independence, enrolled in the USA military working partially as a linguist during World War II, and was stationed in Tokyo and Seoul until 1945-1946. However, in a turn of events, Alice was uncovered as a communist and was named as a double agent for North Korea. Despite her incredibly complicated and high stakes life, the independence fighter’s legacy is absent from Korean American and feminist histories in both mainland South Korea and the United States.
A multimedia and multi-sensory installation, “Alice & Alice” includes a 3-channel video work, an interactive tea performance, and prints of translated archival documentation. The exhibition’s centerpiece, a 3-channel video made completely through thermal technology, weaves text from Alice Hyun’s archives and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to pose questions about the role of nationalism in the diaspora. Alice Hyun was labeled a communist, a devil, an American spy by South Korea and North Korea, a North Korean spy to the US and South Korea, simultaneously both an enemy and ally. “Alice & Alice: in free fall” positions Alice as a metaphor for bodies that simultaneously house multiple cultures and multiple truths while asking what is the past, present, and future of diaspora politics tethered to motherland and birthland nationalism.