Theresa Hak Kyung Cha
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s family immigrated to the US in 1962, where she studied literature and art. She later moved to Paris, where she studied film and film theory with Christian Metz, Raymond Bellour and Thierry Kuntzel. Cha’s (*1951,South Korea, †1982, USA) most important work, published shortly before her violent death in 1982, is the novel Dictee, which inter- weaves the biographies of several women. The various genres employed in her works are united by the topic of cultural, geographical and social uprootedness, which runs as a common thread through her oeuvre of films, performances and texts.
In Aveugle Voix (literally ‘blind voice’ in French, but also phonetically ‘the blind sees’), Hak Kyung Cha is dressed in white, squatting in front of a rolled white banner and two white headbands. She ties the first headband, with the word AVEUGLE (‘blind’) stencilled in black, over her mouth before tying the other over her eyes, revealing the word VOIX (‘voice’, ‘opinion’ or ‘vote’) also stencilled in black. She then stands and unfurls the banner, revealing a text in the following order:
WORDS – FAIL – ME – SANS (‘without’) – MOT (‘word’, ‘message’) – SANS – VOIX – AVEUGLE – GESTE (‘gesture’, ‘act’).
She lays the banner on the ground and begins interacting with it in a series of gestures and movements. As in many of her works, she evokes references to Korean culture, dance and ritual, but without drawing a coherent picture of cultural memory, language or origin. The relationship between body, language, meaning and memory is fragile, fragmented or distorted. Multiplicity and multilingualism is her mode of regaining language and existence.
Performance: San Francisco, 1975
Courtesy C. University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive