Kiki Jia-Qi Zhen
Born in Guangdong, China
Immigrated and lives in Chicago, IL
Through performance, sculpture, and site-specific installation I reflect on my experiences of immigration, trauma, memory, and story-telling. In working with materials relevant in Chinese culture, and through repetitive gestures, I highlight inter-generational complexities that arise from being a first-generation immigrant. In my work, I explore and create a platform from which to speak as someone who is part of the Chinese diaspora in the United States. While grappling with these complexities, I also realize that displacement is a necessary force for identities to evolve and transform in a place where many cultures coexist. As I search for a sense of self-assertion, as a first-generation Chinese artist, I constantly experience cultural and inter-generational clashes. In search and desire for belonging, I create work that alludes to the simultaneous experiences of belonging and displacement.
My use of materials is deliberate and essential in order to evoke both a sense of understanding and defamiliarization. The symbolic forms in my work are drawn from memory of my experiences and life in China as a child and from my present home in America. Because immigration is a major issue in our era, I see my work as a part of a larger global context. I believe that personal and familial relational gaps help us grasp transnational identities.