a two-person exhibition featuring the work of Cara Kuball and Joanna Tam
April 7 - May 13, 2017
Opening Reception - April 7, 5-9pm
How’s Howard is pleased to present “Correspondence with the White House”, a two-person exhibition featuring the work of Cara Kuball and Joanna Tam. Two distinct spaces capture the current political climate through durational videos, photographs, performative objects, and typed letters with the former president. Hong Kong-born, Boston-based artist Joanna Tam depicts herself in nearly every work.
Tam’s largest video, “I’m American (Happy 4th Edition)”, projects the artist’s voice emphatically repeating: “I’m American”, as 4th of July fireworks explode in the air behind her. Without much pause in between each exclamation, Tam’s out- of-breath efforts begin to homogenize each statement, challenging the notions of ethnicity and nationality through spoken language.
“Studio Action II (That’s how I deal with it)”, depicts Tam in a conventional women’s black business suit and patent-leather heels, demolishing a sculpture which represents her pathway to citizenship in the United States. With power tools in hand, Tam documents her persistence, strength and sense of humor while dismantling an iconic symbol of power.
Cara Kuball’s video, “The Harder You Hit Me II”, was made for a pop-up exhibition in Boston at The Distillery Gallery, held on the evening of Trump’s inauguration. The piece initiates with the artist engaging in direct eye contact with the camera. Kuball slowly pats her chest with an open hand, establishing a constant beat throughout the duration of the video. Kuball uses this sustained rhythm to chant; “I am a little cowbell, the harder you hit me, the louder I yell”. The beat, grounded by the contact of Kuball’s open hand slapping her chest, grows louder as the artist increasingly strikes herself with greater force. Gradually, an open hand turns into a closed fist, as Kuball states her mantra with palpable emotion and greater determination.
Supporting objects in the gallery invite viewers to engage in Kuball’s demonstration. “The Harder you Hit Me III”, a freestanding sculpture, comprised of a felt covered cowbell affixed to the top of a cymbal stand, calls for viewers to strike it with a pair of drumsticks. At first, the felt muffles the ring of the bell and the initial assault of the drumsticks. Forceful, persistent blows wear away at the instrument’s protective layer, allowing the cowbell to bellow out with a continuously greater expression. This leads to the critical question: how much abuse can be endured before the Voice is heard?