Sue Jeong Ka

Book Repair Lab: The Jefferson Market Library & the Women’s House of Detention, 2019-Ongoing

My artistic motivation derives from contemplating my identities and their social invisibility. As an ethnic and sexual minority, I am interested in such invisibility in the racialized and class-oriented urban structure that gives it a spatial form and context.

My art tactically involves the mechanisms of public services to redefine the boundaries between artistic practice, service provision, private and public space, ownership, and citizenship. Throughout my career, I have produced artworks that double as operational files, ranging from project participants’ authorized documents to unrevealed records in the national archives. The resulting projects take various forms that enhance creative heterodoxies, such as identification cards, legal contracts, multilingual ephemera, and databases that question the foundation of intellectual freedom and freedom of expression. As much as my artistic inquiries vary, they aim to open space for meaningful dialogue about social contracts imposed on marginalized subjects to forge alternative institutional landscapes.

Sue Jeong Ka’s work seeks to meet communal needs. From commemorations of female Asian immigrants from the 19th century to a trilingual community newspaper and a piece assisting queer and immigrant homeless youth in New York to apply for federally issued IDs, she mobilizes traditional art spaces to provide community services and, in so doing to critique the public structures in which we exist. She is an alumna of the Whitney Independent Study Program (NY, US) and a recipient of Gail and Stephan A. Jarislowsky Outstanding Artist Fellowship (Alberta, CA), LMCC’s Creative Engagement Grant (NY, US), the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship (NY, US) and has been in residence at the Banff Center for Arts and Creativity (Alberta, CA), The Drawing Center (NY, US) among many others. Inspired by Asian American artist-led social movements in downtown New York, Ka is currently researching the history of carceral architecture in NYC’s Chinatown in support of the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University.

The LES Studio Program is supported in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.