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François Ghebaly
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Christine Sun Kim at François Ghebaly


This is the last week to view Christine Sun Kim’s exhibition of drawings at François Ghebaly downtown. Though this exhibition focuses on drawings, Kim is a multi-disciplinary artist who works in drawing, performance, and sound. Kim was born deaf, and this exhibition titled “Trauma, LOL,” blends communication modes of ASL, infographics, feeling charts, clocks, and musical notation to create works that communicate an array of ideas as well as various obstacles that are faced by the deaf community.

One pair of drawings focuses on Kim’s experience signing America the Beautiful and the National Anthem at the 2020 Superbowl, a momentous moment for the ASL community which was not fully televised on Fox Sports and other platforms when the game aired, leading to an op-ed piece by Kim in the New York Times the next day in which she expressed her frustration. The drawings detail some of Kim’s notations in preparing for the performance, as well as the racist and violent undertones in the “Star-Spangled Banner” poem by Francis Scott Key (the national anthem only uses the first stanza of the four in the poem).

Elsewhere in the exhibition, the drawing “Deaf Traumas” depicts a ring of smiley faces that move from happy to sad while text around each notates a different social interaction. Throughout the drawing, Kim muses on various oppressions and microaggressions that can occur among the Deaf community, such as “white Deaf on immigrant Deaf,” which is written under a sad face. In “World Clock,” a large mural installed on the gallery wall, the hand sign which means “your turn” in ASL  — a pointing hand with the thumb extended — rotates around in a circular pattern, signaling a collective cooperation in which we all must take turns. As such, while rooted in her personal experience, Kim’s exhibition explores a cohesive and universal sentiment of unity — bringing to mind the Martin Luther King Jr. quote, “none of us are free until all of us are free.”

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Photo: Christine Sun Kim, “Trauma, LOL” (2020). Image courtesy of the artist and François Ghebaly, Los Angeles. Photo by Paul Salveson.