Kunlin He

Affiliate, 2018 - 2019
Affiliate, 2017 - 2018
Graduate Fellowships, 2016

Portrait of Kunlin wearing glasses and a grey t-shirt.

Artist Statement

My art explores the ways of applying the methodology of Chinese studies and Sinophone studies to the flourishing studies of contemporary visual culture and presents it in multimedia language combining performance, essay film, painting, and installation. In the process, I attempt to explore the Asian geographical features of China and the various contemporary issues that have emerged since China’s economic transformation, by setting them in a complex global context, along with topics of China’s mass media culture, gender culture, and the Chinese diaspora, which have largely been overlooked.

While At Headlands

Chinese Masculinity is an ‘essay film’, my experiment of combining gender, media and sinology studies. This is a concept raised by the sinologue Kam Louie, who used the binary of wen (cultural attainment) and wu (martial valor) to explain Chinese masculinity. In the video, I discussed the importance of wen in Chinese culture, by composing essays on four case studies, Yi Zhongtian, Yu Dan, Old Master Q, and Chiang Yee, four successful intellectual-turned-businessmen in the 20th century China. At the same time, I played the role of a young businessman, performing the acts of academic reading and commercial activities throughout the night in a company in the Bay Area, as a way of showcasing Chinese masculinity that prioritizes intellect. At the opening of the exhibition, I gave a live performance by writing an academic paper and refusing to talk to my friends who attended the exhibition, for the purpose of showing my masculinity as a Chinese male.

Selected Video

Every Bush and Tree Looks like an Enemy (Video Installation) from Kunlin He on Vimeo.