“Asia” covers a lot of territory, both geographically and culturally. To situate our relationship with it is a complex and fascinating process.
In countless ways, Asia influences us all. In the Bay Area, and California in general, its influence is particularly visible, thanks to the vibrant range of cultures in this region. Proximities is a trilogy of exhibitions featuring the diverse perspectives of Bay Area-based artists whose work expresses connections, conceptions and interpretations of Asia. Working from various personal proximities to the region—from family heritage to imagined journeys—the artists offer points of departure for contemplating the role of place in contemporary art.
The first exhibition, What Time Is It There?, raised questions about how Asia is seen from afar. This second show, Knowing Me, Knowing You (titled after a 1976 hit song by the pop sensation ABBA), focuses on actual and imagined relationships across generations. With an eye on intersections of East and West, and a warm sense of nostalgia, the artists depict connections to Asia through bloodlines, as well as affinities with well-known and ordinary people outside the artists’ families. The works raise questions about what is recognizable in a face, a name or the moment of interaction when a meal is shared and a conversation started with new friends. With curiosity and wit, each artist explores the central question posed by the Proximities series: how well do objects and ideas convey an accurate sense of Asia?
—Glen Helfand, Guest Curator