A dramatically lit set with a person hanging from ropes

Autumn Ahn, "a tall action is not a height," 2017; live performance landscape; RT 2hr (each iteration); photo by Peter Ellis

Autumn Ahn

Artist in Residence, 2022
Artist in Residence, 2020

Portrait of Autumn Ahn

Artist Statement

I am working with the multiplicities of narrative that form our historical perspectives and visions of utopia. Inspired by their poetic movements, and the voids found in both contemporary and ancestral histories, my focus on states-of-change informs the way I study how context builds mythological conditions of identity, culture, future, and consciousness. I find that the most unpredictable phenomena in my practice become the most reliable presence in my work. And as I follow their shifting architectures, I use the body, live space, personal biography, inherited dreaming, and ethnobotanical traditions, objects, painting, sculpture, field recording, and assemblage, to invite encounters with the unknown, with wonder and emotion.

While at Headlands

Since 2020, when I came across newly-accessible art histories of contemporary Korean art in the English language, I have been discovering my own complex relationship to the power of shaping an imagined history for oneself. As a young child—without a transparent biography of the conditions leading to my parents’ immigration to the US, nor the events that passed in the process—I was raised with a clear focus on embodying an image of success within the privilege of an unweighted past. This idealism, while generative and hopeful, misrepresents the structures we rely on to move forward concretely. Without clear relativity to historic events, we are living through mythological or fantasy-driven lives, distorting a temporal relationship to the immediate world. My goal is to spend this time exploring this source of personal experience to understand its more universal nature. What is it that we do with transformative possibilities of absence?

How does one reconcile missing concreteness without exploiting the opportunity of space for imagination? And finally, how does this experience of vastness and shapeshifting hold metaphoric meaning aligned with the forces of nature?

I will be working from a varied source of collected materials, as well as conducting some research. These include: field recordings, video footage, a personal archive of logged dreams, paper, wire, and ink, in the direction of installation or eventual performance.

Selected Video


untitled (placed & found), 2018; live performance; RT 10min

a tall action is not a height, 2017/2020; experimental video documentation of live performance; RT 7m42s; Camera: CJ Baker; Editing: Peter Ellis