Artist Profile 9 – Christa Joo Hyun D’Angelo
An honest and intimate set of work and a unique perspective on womanhood in the 21st century.
4SEE puts a spotlight on young artists from the international art scene whom we deeply admire for their explosive talent and limitless creativity. In the hypercompetitive artworld, these artists stand out for their clear voice and concepts that count.
Christa Joo Hyun D’Angelo has made a career of addressing tough and personal subjects like race, gender, and sexuality in her artwork, creating thought-provoking works that reveal genuine experiences and question our assumptions. When she turns her inquisitive gaze towards herself, the result is an honest and intimate set of work and a unique perspective on womanhood in the 21st century.
Name Christa Joo Hyun D’Angelo
Age 30 + 5
Nationality American Korean Italian
Medium Installation, collage, sculpture, neon, video
Based in Berlin
Find more at christajdangelo.com
Interview from May 2018
Did you always know that you were going to be an artist?
I started private art classes when 6 years old and can’t imagine doing anything else since I need an outlet for my creativity and all the crazy thoughts going on in my head. Art was something I could wake up for everyday and not get sick of, so of course I can’t imagine not using my artistic methods, approaches and ideas to what I am doing and how I define myself as a person.
Do you find the artworld cutthroat and competitive, or is it also supportive and community-minded, or something in between?
The artworld is very different than the world I envisioned it to be, but it is an industry after all and with that there are no rules and no clearly defined borders. But the artworld, like any particular field, is a bubble and within that bubble there are many social circles and hierarchies. It’s a lot like being in high school, so many cliques, a lot of gossip, competition, inspiration, friends, lovers, enemies and a lot of people sleeping together for better or worse ! But there are always friends to be made and so much to discover. I do think there is a lot of support among individual communities and that is a very rewarding and important thing for anyone – being a part of something where you are free to exchange ideas, show transparency and build solid long lasting friendships.
What would you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?
Surviving 35 years of economic turbulence and to have made work that touches people.
Does art always need to be relevant? Is there a place for aesthetic indulgence, or do politics come into play in your motivation?
My work is relevant to my life and to my experiences and that is how I think and operate as an artist. There is a very long history of men, especially white men, using women and other minorities as subjects in their work, but personally I start with what I know and what I know is my own perspective and experiences as a mid-30s, non-white, not super straight female from a working class backround and my work starts from there. Regardless, I want people from as many different creeds and backrounds as possible, to be able to relate to my art because I think art should be as far reaching as possible. My creative choices are built on what feels and seems good and appropriate for me at that time and perhaps that manifests into a political gesture or is a part of a larger social discourse. So when I make work, I make it because there is something that needs to come out and there is something screaming to be scene and heard and so it is not so much about motivation as it is about curiosity and instinct. For several years I was dealing with racial issues and questions in regards to my life in Germany, so I made a video work that dealt with racism and tried to understand where racism comes from. I did not want it to be theoretical because racism is a very real and an unfortunate reality for many people and it felt important to make a work that told a story that dealt with this reality and not about a theory. Some of my newer works are more physical and tactile such as “Heartless” which is a large sculpture of a broken heart necklace that measures up to the feeling of being broken, the feeling of being devoured by something larger than you and the weight bearing pressure of a relationship which was emblematic in the scale and symbol of this broken heart sculpture. I made this work and it seems very female, probably because a man cannot make a work like that, but at that time making that sculpture was a way for me to move forward. I am not sure if art has to always be relevant but again far reaching.
What topics have got you inspired at the moment?
Love, loss, desire, shame, power, age, femininity, transitions and failure.
What is it like to live/work in Berlin?
I think I was able to make work in Berlin that I could have never made anywhere else because Berlin has many resources and I had the support of so many which was important since I never had much money. So in that way I was able to cultivate a very solid and diverse body of work that became “me” as I matured from an early 20s recent graduate with no where to live into a mid 30s artist with permanent residency in Germany. To work here as a young artist can be great, but everything has its limits and Berlin is still figuring out what it wants to be, so if you are young and ambitious it can be truly fulfilling. It certainly has rough edges and a brooding history that is very prevalent but it has a lot of space for contemplation and expression. Berlin is a very reluctant city that gives many chances.
What is next for you, an immediately upcoming project or chance to see your work?
Since January I am working on an artist book with the legendary Straight to Hell Publications. Editor Billy Miller, designer Jan Wandrag and myself have been working very diligently on this book and we are almost done so we hope to launch it by the end of summer! The book focuses on racism, eugenics, horse breeding and freelance labor. My giant installation and sculpture “Heartless” is on exhibition until November at Galerie Sprechsaal in Berlin. At the end of May I will be in a show at Halle 14 in Leipzig and will be on a podium discussion about multiculturalism in the GDR. June I will be a show in Berlin at SOMA in conjunction with NYU’s Global Asian / Pacific Exchange Program and will do an artist talk with the current director and special projects curator Alexandra Chang. Fall will be also busy but I’m afraid I can’t say too much about that right now.
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time, where would you like to see your artwork and at what scale?
More growth, prosperity, warmth, intellect and creativity. Artistically, I want to grow in such unexpected and powerful ways but for me the bigger the better.