Art League Houston (ALH) presents In the Shadows, an installation featuring sculpture, textile and video by Chicago-based artist Jade Yumang. The exhibition is part of an ongoing body of work by the artist exploring the queer aesthetics of Film Noir. The work in this exhibition considers how film noir is constructed stylistically and narratively to disorient the audience to generate a level of uncertainty and deception, not just in its story arc, but more so on how queer characters implicitly and explicitly surface.
“My work primarily focuses on the concept of queer form,” says the artist. “I use a variety of techniques to convey notions of phenomenology, affect, and "queer" as a process, as a verb rather than a quality. My current work addresses the term "queer" and its aesthetics through three-dimensional, site-specific installation, and performative work as a way to see how the body resists or submits through materiality and technique vis-à-vis obsessive acts, strict parameters, repetition, and forms of discipline. This direction is guided through the tracing and summoning of historical amnesia, by means of myths, scandal trials, obscenity laws, and filmic tropes. I filter these procedures through meticulous techniques and create abstract shapes that initially come from a corporeal form. My compulsiveness to place things in order in reality breaks into pieces that expose the pressure placed on non-conforming bodies and their values.”
Using the materiality of costuming, lighting, and queer affect, the installation in ALH’s main gallery features a series of effigies of queer characters that emerged and navigated the strict movie moral codes in Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s. Additionally, the installation includes a looped video projection featuring clips from eight films that have been configured to only depict the scenes when queer characters are represented. Furthermore, the video is projected onto, and through, a large-scale abstract sculptural form in the center of the gallery, producing a distorted effect across the gallery walls, echoing the uncertainty that is built into noir’s central narrative. Most of characters' sexuality in the films are formulated through crime scenarios where gay men are portrayed as deviant dandies and lesbians as menacing sadists. These depictions, although contemporarily outdated, were important at that time, since these queer characters seep through the shadow and glare at the instability of heterosexuality as they act as a harbinger for the LGBTQ rights movement in the 1960s.
About the Artist
Jade Yumang was named after his mother’s beauty salon and from an earlier age has been obsessed with beautiful, yet slightly off things. His work primarily focuses on the concept of queer form through sculptural abstraction, installation, and performance. He received his MFA at Parsons School of Design with Departmental Honors in 2012 and his BFA Honors in University of British Columbia as the top graduate in 2008. He was born in Quezon City, Philippines, grew up in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, immigrated to unceded Coast Salish territories in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and lives in Chicago, IL, USA. He is part of a New York-based collaborative duo, Tatlo, with Sara Jimenez and is an Assistant Professor in the department of Fiber and Material Studies at School of the Art Institute of Chicago.