Visual Arts Alumna A young Yu '19 in Solo Exhibition at Cantor Arts Center

Mădălina Telea Borteș
March 03, 2023

Mourning Rituals (21:47, digital video, 2022), a media arts installation by Visual Arts Alumni A young Yu ’19 is on view at the Cantor Arts Center of Stanford University until May 7, 2023. The installation, which consists of a 22-minute video piece, was filmed over the course of two years, from 2020 to 2022, in collaboration with the artist’s mother, Gemma Yu, dancer and choreographer Sohye Kim, and artist Nicholas Oh. 

Aptly titled, the work explores “the Korean ancestral ssitkimgut ritual, during which the spirits of the deceased are cleansed and guided into the afterlife to conjoin with the ancestors,” Yu explains. In this piece, as in much of her work, Yu plumbs the intersection of ritual, Korean folklore, and dance to create performances that “reconfigure the [ssitkimgut] ritual to speak to personal and collective experiences of trauma and grief.” 

In this film, that reconfiguration takes the form of “movements ranging from visceral gestures exploring the sublime to meditative dances mimicking funerary rites and folk dance,” which “evoke sacred ancestral re-connection as a healing guide.” 

As Yu explains, the “performances are not edited and presented in a linear chronological sequence, but rather are blended together to mimic the rhythmic and meditative practice of the ssitkimgut ritual.” The resulting effect is closer to a durational art piece, wherein the viewer is enwrapped and ushered through a liminal space where the interiority of experience is most potent, rather than a film piece concerned with the artistic aestheticization of experience. Yu’s collaboration with Korean-American artist Nicholas Oh, who created immersive installations that reference the sites of ancestral ritual in Korea, such as prehistoric caves and burial mounds, helped to create that engulfing effect. 

Mourning Rituals was filmed in a variety of socio-politically charged locations that also hold significant personal meaning, such as the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, the island of Kauaʻi, Hawaii, and the Hudson Valley in New York.

A young Yu (b. 1990) is a Korean-American artist based in New York. She received her MFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University and BFA in Painting from Rhode Island School of Design. She has exhibited at venues such as the Museum of Art and Design, New York; Christie’s Inc., New York; Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York; Artist Alliance, New York; Fredric Snitzer Gallery, Miami; LeRoy Neiman Gallery, New York; Time Square Space, New York; the Jewish Museum, New York.

Yu was awarded the Artist In the Market (AIM) Fellowship by the Bronx Museum of Arts, the Individual Artist Fellowship by the MidAtlantic Foundation of Arts, the Gold Prize by the AHL Foundation, and the Artist Session by Recess Gallery. She has also participated in artists residencies at Sculpture Space, New York; Dongguk University, South Korea; School of Visual Arts, New York; Catwalk Art Institute, New York.