“So there are no differences, then: we’re each a flesh ribbon that, due to the law of gravity, begins in the mouth and ends in the anus.” Paul Preciado, Anal Terror.
Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space is pleased to present shit!, a group exhibition organized by TJ Shin, a former artist-in-residence of the LES Studio Program.
shit! brings together eight artists whose work directly explores shit–fecal matter, poop, stool, excrement–and its charged forms of bodily engagements. As a process of consumption, ingestion, and excretion, shit becomes both a metaphor and a material practice to explore abjection, biodiversity, and transformation. Can human, animal, and plant waste offer a lens to think about our food systems, composting bodies, and global relations?
Works in shit! span the speculative and the literal, the embodied and the ephemeral: Ten Izu intricately weaves textiles that evoke toilet paper rolls spotted with poopy Rilakkuma characters. In their collaborative project Cerulean Waters, Johann Diedrick and Laura Kung collect and record human fecal matter from the sewage overflow at Newtown Creek: Diedrick composes a soundscape from underwater recordings and Kung cultivates fecal coliform from the body of water using an agar solution which is then used to dye silk textiles. Karen Kuo handshapes dirt spheres using bokashi green manure and meditates on community composting and care. Collaborating with his dog, Christopher Lin scarifies melon seeds activated by canine digestion. Umico Niwa creates DIY solar panels to create biochar, a soil ameliorant, out of dog fecal matter. Sophie Friedman-Pappas blends her ammonia-rich urine solution to treat leather hides. TJ Shin harvests and consumes lion mane mushrooms from their feces and New York City food waste.
Together, the artists digest the political economy of garbage, microbial ecologies, the infrastructure of health and sanitation, and abject toilet humor.
Johann Diedrick is an artist, engineer, and musician that makes installations, performances, and sculptures for exploring the world through our ears. He surfaces vibratory histories of past interactions inscribed in material and embedded in space, peeling back sonic layers to reveal hidden memories and untold stories. He shares his tools and techniques through listening tours, workshops, and open-source hardware/software. He is currently a 2020 Technology Artist-in-Residence at PioneerWorks and a recipient of a 2020 Brooklyn Arts Fund grant from the Brooklyn Arts Council. His work has been featured in Wire Magazine, Musicworks Magazine, and presented at MoMA PS1 (in collaboration with Jonathan González), Somerset House (London, UK), Social Kitchen (Kyoto, Japan), Common Ground (Berlin, Germany), Recess (Brooklyn, NY), Knockdown Center (Queens, NY), and Pioneer Works (Brooklyn, NY).
Ten Izu’s sculptures draw upon personal experiences with codependencies and hierarchies of power: from deconstructing their rebellions against a Catholic upbringing to the realization that the artist’s cat depends on them for all aspects of survival. Many questions permeate Ten Izu’s practice: What motivates a pet goldfish to leap from its fishbowl to certain death? Or, how do imbalanced systems of wealth and power produce constant economic precarity for some while, not for others? Izu’s childhood introduction to Medieval representations of Hell and human mortality inspires their hybridized visual language that blends tropes of religious iconography with playful commentary on interpersonal relationships.
Laura Kung uses textile making as an introspective tool to examine belonging, home, and the in-between and to release herself from the confines of identity, tradition & correctness. Kung creates work that integrates slow methods of making such as floor loom weaving, tapestry weaving, patchworking, and natural dyeing into spatial installations that use color, texture, and light as perceptual landscapes. Kung explores the tension and harmony between opposing value systems, rooted in her in-between identity as a first-generation Chinese-American and the constant search for belonging.
Karen Kuo is an artist living in LA. Her projects explore the ephemera of light and color in architectural and imagined space to replicate moments of heightened emotion. Kuo’s daily observations of natural phenomena map the passage of time materially in the form of drawings, paintings, and sculptures. She earned her BFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2015.
Christopher Lin is a New York-based conceptual artist exploring themes of ecology and human systems. Combining elements of scientific experimentation and ritual practice, his sculptures, installations, and conceptual projects explore materials that are familiar to the viewer but are presented in an unfamiliar way. Through careful arrangements of found objects and performative encounters, the everyday is twisted and made visceral. Play transforms into contemplation as he explores themes such as transience, the human condition, and environmental anxiety. Lin received a BA from Yale University and an MFA from Hunter College. He was awarded the C12 Emerging Artist Fellowship in 2016 and is currently a fellow for the Bronx Museum AIM Emerging Artist Fellowship.
Umico Niwa’s practice explores the way Western notions of personhood subsume human life into constructs of sexuality and gender, overlooking the various other modes of unbridled existence: plant, microbial, fungal, animal, celestial bodies. Her speculative medical papers propose novel forms of body modification to combat gender dysphoria as well as playfully explore the possible efficacy of including fecal matter transplants as part of hormone replacement therapy for transgender individuals.
Sophie Friedman-Pappas was born in 1995 in New York, NY. She lives and works in New York, NY. Friedman-Pappas has exhibited at Alyssa Davis Gallery, New York, NY, organized by Octagon (2021); in lieu, Los Angeles, CA (2019); Resort Gallery, Baltimore, MD (2018); King’s Leap, Brooklyn, NY (2018); and ADDS DONNA, Chicago, IL (2017). In 2020, she completed a year-long residency with the Freshkills Park Alliance, New York, NY. Friedman-Pappas received her BFA in 2017 from the Maryland Institute College of Art and will begin her MFA in September 2021 at the University of California Los Angeles.
TJ Shin is an interdisciplinary artist working at the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and speciesism. Inspired by decentralized ecologies and queer sociality, they create living installations to decolonize the neoliberal status of the “Human” and imagine an ever-expanding self that exists beyond the boundaries of one’s skin. Shin is a 2020 New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellow and 2020 Visiting Artist Fellow at UrbanGlass in Brooklyn. Shin has exhibited internationally at Doosan Gallery, Klaus Von Nichtssagend Gallery, Cuchifritos Gallery, AC Institute, Abrons Arts Center, all in New York, NY; Knockdown Center, Queens, NY; and Cody Dock, London, England, among others. Shin was an artist-in-residence at Recess, Brooklyn; Wave Hill, the Bronx; Artist Alliance Inc., New York; Coalesce Artist Residency at University at Buffalo, New York; and Col(LAB) Visiting Artist at Princeton University, New Jersey.
This exhibition is made possible with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Artists Alliance Inc. (AAI) is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization located on the Lower East Side of New York City. Programming support is provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Further exhibition programming support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. We thank the New York City Economic Development Corporation, The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center, and individual supporters of Artists Alliance Inc for their continued support. Special thanks go to our team of dedicated volunteers and interns, without whom this program would not be possible. For more information, visit artistsallianceinc.org
Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space is located inside Essex Market, which is fully accessible by ADA standards. The gallery can be accessed from any ground floor entrance. Cuchifritos Gallery welcomes assistance dogs and has wheelchair-accessible toilet facilities on the lower level and 2nd floor, which can be accessed by the east-side elevator. For access inquiries please contact Artists Alliance at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 420-9202.