|Born in Korea, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951-1982) emigrated to the U.S. with her family at the age of 13. She grew up in San Francisco, studied comparative literature and art at the University of California, Berkeley from the late 1960s to late 1970s. At this time, Berkeley was not only a site of student protests against the invasion of U.S. troops in Vietnam: the entire Bay Area was also a center for experimental art such as performance and video. |
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha: Aveugle Voix, 1975
Photo courtesy of Generali Foundation
Deeply affected by her own geographical exile as well as cultural and linguistic displacement, the artist addressed themes such as memory and alienation. Characteristic of her exceptionally poetic and conceptual works is an intense engagement with language. As the "common denominator" in her interest in literature, linguistics and film semiology, she understood language as the primary basis for her work. Cha, who spoke three languages fluently, looked for "the roots of the language before it is born on the tip of the tongue." She used the learning of foreign languages to go beyond their basic function as means of communication, analyzing them and experimenting with "other relationships with language."
A basic topic in Cha's work is the artistic realization of structuralist linguistic theories and French film theory, which she has studied at the Centre d'Etudes Américain du Cinéma in Paris with theorists such as Christian Metz, Raymond Bellour, and Thierry Kuntzel. The artist is known among film scholars for her publication Apparatus. Cinematographic Apparatus: Selected Writings, which she edited in 1980 - a standard work with seminal essays on film theory. In the middle section the book includes the work Commentaire, the artist's own contribution to the subject.
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