Like thousands of Korean orphans since the 1950s, I was adopted by a Japanese American family and brought to the United States as an infant in 1982. I currently live in Los Angeles, where I work as an exotic dancer and a performance artist. In 2011, arrangements were made through a social worker to meet my birth mother. After traveling to Korea, I was devastated to learn that she had changed her mind and refused to meet with me. I returned to the US with even more questions and an even heavier heart than before, hoping this visual letter filmed over the course of a year would bring some sort of peace if not the chance to finally meet the mother I’ve never known.
The performance was inspired by the journey of defining my identity, researching my ancestry, and the circumstances and politics in which I was adopted. I was told that unmarried women who got pregnant were sent to unwed mothers homes. Here, they were to hide until they gave birth then lie to their family and friends regarding their whereabouts. This was still true as of 2011 when I went back for the first time since birth. I spent time in one of these facilities where I had the opportunity to speak with some of the women about their experiences. That observation led me to further investigate the relationship with my own body and sexuality resulting in the desire to express freedoms my own mother was forbidden. I wanted to convey my experience as a Korean adoptee growing up in a Japanese American family. In this performance, I wear a custom replica of my Korean ceremonial outfit while being tied in Japanese shibari rope, communicating what it feels like to be tied between the two cultures I have been raised in and the perpetual limbo lack of belonging created, while recalibrating my own sexuality.
Performed in tandem for the first time at REDCAT fall STUDIO 2019
Curated by Marsian and Sebastian Hernandez.
Directed by MATTHEW KAUNDART (matthewkaundart.com)
Inspired by Letters by KAYLA TANGE (kaylatange.com)
Produced by LUKA FISHER (luka-fisher.com) & MATTHEW KAUNDART
Co-Producer KAYLA TANGE
Director of Photography KYLE KRUPINSKI (kylekrupinski.com)
Edited by MATTHEW KAUNDART
Translation YONG KWON
Color KYLE KRUPINSKI
Re-Recording Mixer BRENT KISER
Sound Editor TIMOTHY PRESTON
Intuitive movement choreographer Gregory Barnett