Subliminal Projects is pleased to present FOLK MEDIC II: PANACEA, a site-specific collaborative exhibition by the Los Angeles-based FOLK MEDIC collective, Ako Castuera, Hellen Jo, and Kris Chau, together with a group exhibition curated by independent curator and arts writer Essence Harden.
FOLK MEDIC II stands as an extension of the collective’s 2018 exhibition at Subliminal Projects, rooted in healing and friendship. FOLK MEDIC II manifests once again, out of a time of historic upheaval, with focus on remedy, community action, and family.
Coordinated in tandem with FOLK MEDIC II, PANACEA is a group exhibition on care, extending from the ethos of FOLK MEDIC’s work. Panacea asks how medicine is an alchemic act of communal practice and how a physical site might become a salve. Medicine here is harbored in artworks of light, sound, landscape, hue, fibers, flora, and proclamation. PANACEA shifts the reduction of care from its institutionalized and privatized positioning and throttles it towards a cosmology of attributes, attitudes, and generative impulses of the collective. In this form, care provides glimpses of family archives, assemblage objects, ephemera, amalgamative forms, corporeal geographies, and the marks of our Anthropocene. The earliest moments of FOLK MEDIC II were grounded in the question: what was your medicine? Panacea answers in myriad ways, extending outwards and back towards a collectivist approach.
ABOUT FOLK MEDIC
KRIS CHAU is a first-generation Vietnamese Chinese American from Honolulu, Hawaii whose parents are Refugees from the Vietnam War. Her work is an ever-evolving language of symbolism gathered from different cultural cosmologies to express our human nature to heal and share.
AKO CASTUERA’S ancestors came from Mexico and Okinawa. She was born in Los Angeles, on Tongva land, where her practice as a sculptor and storyteller explores reciprocal exchanges among the many living forces generated from, converging on, and returning to soil. She is also known for her work in children’s animated television, recently as a writer and director on ‘City of Ghosts’, a show guided by personal histories from Los Angeles in the midst of change.
HELLEN JO is a second-generation Korean American from South San Jose. Her illustrations, paintings, and comics depict menacing girls and sullen women, in a repeated personal exploration of her ideal self. She has a special fascination for the power and cruelty of teenagers, as well as an increasing interest in the cultural nostalgia and revulsion toward Korean folk shamanistic Mudang practices.
ESSENCE HARDEN is a Los Angeles-based independent curator and arts writer. Essence has curated exhibitions at Charlie James Gallery, California African American Museum (CAAM), Antenna Gallery (New Orleans), Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), The Advocate and Gochis Galleries, Residency Art Gallery (Inglewood), Human Resources, Oakland Museum of California, UTA Artist Space, El Segundo Museum of Art (2021), and Eduardo Secci Contemporary (2022), and the Orange County Museum of Art (2022). Essence is a contributor to New York Times Magazine (2021), the Los Angeles Times, SSENSE, Art21, Contemporary Art Review LA (CARLA), Artsy, LALA, Cultured Magazine, Performa Magazine, and SFAQ: International Arts and Culture amongst other publications and has written catalog entries for Prospect 5: Yesterday we said tomorrow; Brave New Worlds: Exploration of Space: Palm Springs Art Museum; and What Needs to Be Said: Hallie Ford Fellows Exhibition. Essence is a 2018 recipient of The Creative Capital, Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant, and a 2020 Annenberg Innovation Lab Civic Media Fellow.
Essence graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in History and received their Master of Arts from the Department of African American Studies at UC Berkeley. Essence is a Ph.D. Candidate (ABD) in African Diaspora Studies at UC Berkeley.