Satellite Fair/ Miami 2016


-for the need to look back and rethink-


Room #23 all together (Rindon Johnson, Sarah Wang, Sessa Englund, Shaina Yang, Shanti Lalita, Dava/ Frog Wing). 

Room #23 all together (Rindon Johnson, Sarah Wang, Sessa Englund, Shaina Yang, Shanti Lalita, Dava/ Frog Wing). 

From the group statements:

"DAVA / FROG WING- Various artifacts from the ongoing Dongba research project. The sketchbook is visual documentation of this year’s trip to Mongolia. The yak skull developed as a companion on that journey. 

3 performances: Thursday- Art is Never Ready, Friday- Book Reading, and Saturday/ Sunday- Zuud (Dream). /// Contact Frog for times: /// 917-yyy-zzzz"

***THANK YOU: to Disclaimer Gallery, to my fellow artists, and all our supporters for sharing this experience with us! Your trust is invaluable! and for that, I am grateful. 

reinterpreting USA

in Cali and prepping towards the upcoming show in Miami (Dec. 1-4). Somewhat stressed and worried most of the time, about everything, anything, or nothing in particular. Trying my best, doing what i can do, whatever that might be.

Spent a few days working at Hunt Studios with my brother and his coworkers. Thanks for all the help! Much appreciated. 

ACC application

Q: What is your proposed project? What are your intended objectives?

I propose to study Mongolian shamanic ritual and dance philosophy. 

I will pursue this from the perspective of an active student of Dongba religion, as well as an American-born artist with Mongolian ancestry. “Dongba” is the traditional animist belief system of the Naxi ethnic Chinese in Southwest China; Dongba is also the name of the shaman-priests who retain ritual knowledge for their communities. I have lived and worked seasonally with Dongba in Yunnan province since 2011. My formal studies in Dongba began in 2013, when I was accepted as a student apprentice and given the name “Wu Zhimi.” Since all Dongba students in recent memory have been male and of Naxi descent (and I am neither), people see Wu Zhimi as an anomaly; The project raises questions of gender, ethnicity/ nationality, and locality within religious/ spiritual practices. 

Mongolia specifically interests me because their shamanic practices are closer to my own ethnic heritage than Dongba culture of the West. In the book Shamanism, Mircea Eliade writes that shamanic practitioners have higher success rate if operating under hereditary traditions. I have heard a similar claim from Buddhist teachers- that chanting ancestral mantras is more effective than using the language of a religion to which you have converted. Contemporary artists, in some ways, perform roles in their communities that are similar to those of shamans of the past. I aim to uncover how Mongolian shamanic traditions may shape my identity today, and incorporate that into my visual arts and performance-based work. 

Many similarities exist between the practices of Mongolian and Naxi shamans. According to John Matthews in The Shamanism Bible, records indicate of a unified culture that once stretched “across Russia, China, Mongolia, Tibet, Nepal, and Persia.” (p.76) Although Mongolia lies on the opposite side of China from Yunnan, Dongba text uses specific pictograms for Mongolia and its people. Do Mongolian peoples recognize the Naxi Dongba in a reciprocal way? 

I plan to locate Mongolian shamans and converse with them about their practices, using Dongba as a comparative base. The conversation will form as a continuation of the dialogues already taking place in Yunnan and America. 

I will interview practitioners informally, observe the ways they live and work (particularly regarding dance, trance, and consultations), and learn about healing methods and herbs. 

My main objectives are to learn and exchange information, to immerse myself in the Mongolian shamanic community as an agent of Dongba culture and Taiwanese-American retrospection. I hope to: A) take Dongba outside of the Yunnan area and bring it to other parts of the world; B) reconnect with Mongolian aspects of my heritage, and re-incorporate it into my identity; C) expand my network of international shamans to include those in Mongolia; D) engage Dongba and Mongolian shamanism in a contemporary shamanic conversation; and E) bring this set of exchanges back to North America (where I was born and raised), where I will re-contextualize what I learned, via my own artworks and performances.

Q: What is the impact you hope your project will have on your home community, and/or your artistic field?

According to Oleg Dorzhiyev, a Russian shaman, shamanic worldview accesses the Universal- to see people as part of a single unified network, along with plants, animals, minerals, and other environmental/ cosmic phenomena. This project is part of a long-term exploration that attempts to define and reframe the nature of the universal human condition in our current globalized era.

We might consider the Naxi/ Dongba and Lijiang Studio international network as my “home community.” My studies in Mongolian shamanic practices will provide a cultural framework for WuZhimi to connect and merge with, as well as extend the reality in which we observe a “sister entity” juxtaposed and conversant with Dongba religion of the Southwest. I am curious as to how Mongolian communities receive information about Dongba religion, and how Dongba sources will react towards the exchanges made. Perhaps this may provide support for those who struggle to see how ancient shamanic tradition survives in post-industrial, post-modern circumstances. 

I also see certain North American creative hubs as my “home community” (especially Brooklyn, New York, where I am based as a working artist). My deepened understanding of my own cultural identity will serve to inform my work and those who witness and communicate with it, and this can diversify the cultural climate that I participate in. I work mainly in the fields of visual and performance arts, where it is not so common to see voices with a background exactly like mine- though I know many practicing artists out there who relate with different facets of my identity. In part, I will investigate, which aspects of my work appeal more or less to American audiences— and why?

Furthermore, I hope these developments lend to legitimize Wu Zhimi as a Dongba-student-practitioner. It will be interesting to observe what ideas and beliefs I am able to trace conceptually to “original” ancestral sources, and to see how they relate with concepts I have studied in China and America. I want my learning to be useful to others, especially those who can relate with me- whether as Asian-American artists/ diaspora, or as queer/ female spiritualists, or international students of shamanism, etc. 

It is fair to say that, since this project is exploratory in nature, and perhaps still in its early stages, I am not ready to discuss its potential social impact. It is possible that this first trip to Mongolia sets groundwork and makes initial connections for further research in the future. Ideally, my experience with this project should contribute toward some level of common identity and our communal understanding of each other as human beings- whether on a cultural/ subcultural, national, or global level. 

omw to Mongolia

LAX Airport staffs laughing at my ticket asking wth is Ulaanbaatar and what is even out there? as in "What were you, like, the last person left in the office, so that they had to send you out on this job?’ (actual quote) LOL.

Many thanks to Jay Brown, Michelle Trick, Jared Fischer, the ACC. I wouldn't actually be here if it weren't for you. 

Americans can stay up to 90 days in Mongolia without a visa. I’m staying for 89. Dunno anyone there (yet), but i’ll figure things out when i arrive. Comment or message and tell me what kind of info (Q&A), action, or object you’d like, regarding Mongolia; I’ll consider and/or do my best to make it happen.

By definition, shamans serve their communities. Without a community, a shaman is merely a lone sorcerer. (Q: What is a "community"?* And who are your communities?) 

See y’all in October.

Community (n.) (Plural: communities)

  1. a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common

  2. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interestsand goals

  3. Ecology a group of interdependent organisms of different species growing or living together in a specified habitat

Origin: late Middle English: from Old French comunete, reinforced by its source, Latin communitas, from communis (see: common). 

End of Primordium tour/ beginning of something else

I decided that the Primordium Tour should end with the Pericardia show in Baltimore- because good timing, but also because the symbolism seemed fitting. Tour named Primordium, ends at Pericardia. 

Thanks to friends + family in Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, California, Yunnan, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York, especially those who hosted me and fed me- thank you so much! And also to others from elsewhere who passed through town, sent a message/ challenge/ posi vibes, or talked on the phone... All that matters, thanks for that, too. Let me know when and how I can return a favor. 

Special thanks to the Poncili House, Aztlan-Shangrila, Lijiang Studio, G.G.Nix, Nomad Rhizome, City Bird, Disclaimer Gallery, Holy Underground, and the Bell Foundry. I considered making a list of names and tagging everyone, but it might a long list, and I'm afraid i might miss anyone on accident, and i know some people don't like being tagged! so to make life easier i'm just not gonna do it, but now you know i almost tried.

We're halfway through 2016 and I'm working hard; there's always more to do from the List... I think this year I've been trying to make up for past stagnation and invisibility or not doing enough. Its still a struggle, time is limited, I've got all these sides to amalgamate, details to adjust. I care about you, and these ideas, but I've only got 1 brain/body and 24/7 of time. I think. It takes focus (or luck) to hit a target. Sometimes everything is a mess. Sometimes I'm already feeling tired but I can't break momentum now. Also, btw, I read that narcissists are proven to make better artists (???) and I feel conflicted about that, I just dont understand why that would be true- unless artists are definitely hypnotists whether they like it or not!

Since 2005 I've havent lived anywhere for more than a year, and lately I've been thinking that maybe I should give that a shot, see how it goes. Would be great to set up a workshop/ studio somewhere, have my own room again, set up a new rhythm of life. I still don't know about 2017 for sure- where I will be or what I'll be doing. It would be cool to finally get a driver's license though. Then I can work towards my longtime dream of operating an ice cream truck puppet theater...

p.s. today is my dads birthday, happy birthday dad // 爸爸生日快樂


Here from mid-May thru late June (tentatively). Nice to be back. 

Cut+paste Dabba banners at the Bell Foundry (photo by Que// IG: bmorealien)

Cut+paste Dabba banners at the Bell Foundry (photo by Que// IG: bmorealien)

Working on an artist residency at the Holy Underground- engaging with the front window as a slowly shifting installation. This is the second attempt, so maybe we can call it a Part II (Part I started in 2014). If you live in town, come by this way! Tune in sporadically for news.  I'm thinking of setting up a Suggestion Box out by the sill, as a venue for feedback. 

Spring 2016 @ Lijiang Studio

"First American DrGe" (2014: from the VesicaPiscis.1 Book) /// Collaborative drawing: HeXiudong + WuZhimi

"First American DrGe" (2014: from the VesicaPiscis.1 Book) /// Collaborative drawing: HeXiudong + WuZhimi

Back at the studio (February 22- May 16). 

Should we give this session a name, or let it be a free-for-all?

Possible colors for Jixiang Orb: gold (outside), black (edges), red (inside). There aren't that many options to choose from, but they definitely stock those three in Jiahe City...

Gift for the Shaman's Father (Kite + Orb) /// Photo: Samantha Silver

Gift for the Shaman's Father (Kite + Orb) /// Photo: Samantha Silver

Processing Aztlan Shangri-La

Just returned from Nicaragua; working on some writing, to explicate...

I did stop in to New York for a few days to deal with some boxes. Big thanks to all my friends who helped- and to everyone who hosted/ assisted me during last month's travels. This week I'll be observing Lunar New Year's Eve/ Day with family in California. 

If you are in LA, check out the shows up now at Superchief and Hive Gallery!


Nicaraguan Coat of Arms: features mountains, a rainbow, and red smurf's hat

Nicaraguan Coat of Arms: features mountains, a rainbow, and red smurf's hat

Well I had shut the whole thing down for a month... and now the old site is back with zero updates- because i need it up for a minute. Still don't have the time to make all the changes just yet, but i will, soon- before February's end.

A theory I overheard this week: La Primera Dama's metal "Tree of Life" spiral public sculptures serve as energetic dowsers (re: geological acupuncture)... 

Google: "metal" "trees" "Nicaragua" 

An Ode to Elegua

Clowning with jugglers at a traffic intersection in San Juan (Puerto Rico). This was a new kind of challenge for me, to abbreviate show into short, simple acts with exaggerated physical motions (time duration of a traffic light, stage size of a wide intersection, audience seated in stalled/ moving cars). The exercise also read as a channelling + meditation on Elegua, a Santeria spirit who is associated with children, religion, honesty/ communication, tricksters, roads/ intersections, and divination/ prayer.


Tour Schedule + Dates: 

1/11-1/21: residency @ Nomad Rhizome (Brooklyn, NY)
1/21-1/28: San Juan, Puerto Rico
1/28-2/4: Managua, Nicaragua
2/4-2/7: New York, NY
2/7-2/15: Los Angeles, CA
2/16-5/16: Kunming/ Lijiang, Yunnan, China
5/20-6/30: Baltimore, MD

*Formerly: "Yaya Purgation"... but we're done with that

**Post-July dates/locations TBA