Tacoma-based international artist Anida Yoeu Ali makes her SAM debut with this solo exhibition that explores performance as an art form. In her work, Ali enacts fantastic mythical heroines as assertions of feminist, queer, and alternative visibilities. These personas are hybrids of different religious aesthetics to disrupt ideas around otherness. Her performances are invitations for viewers to wander, witness, and joyfully experience moments that transcend the ordinary. Central to many of her performances is her use of textiles, a practice rooted in her Cham-Muslim refugee migration experience—her family fled Cambodia with only the clothes on their backs.
This exhibition explores two of Ali’s iconic performances: The Buddhist Bug and The Red Chador. A creation myth sprung from her interest in transcendence, humor, and spiritual turmoil, The Buddhist Bug features a huge saffron-colored creature that Ali enacts in performance. Responding to a global rise of Islamophobia, misogyny, and racism, The Red Chador is an ongoing series of silent public interventions and documented performances that challenge perceptions and fears of the “other.” During the run of the exhibition, Ali will enact the works in two separate performances. On view in the galleries will be artworks that extend the performative moment and Ali’s presence into video, photography, and installation.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Anida Yoeu Ali (b. 1974, Battambang, Cambodia) is an interdisciplinary artist whose works span performance, installation, new media, public encounters, and political agitation. Born in Cambodia and raised in Chicago, she is a first-generation American of mixed Malay, Cham, Khmer, and Thai ancestries. Working transnationally, Ali investigates the artistic, spiritual, and political collisions of her diasporic, hybrid identity with the resolve that in-betweenness is a powerful space for creation and provocation. Ali believes performance allows for a magic of reinventing the self and projecting “larger-than-life” personas liberated from oppressive representations. Currently based in Tacoma, Ali is also the co-founder of Studio Revolt, an independent artist-run media lab whose works have agitated the White House, won awards at film festivals, and redefined what it means to create sans studio and trans-nomadically. Ali’s works have been acquired by public and private collections and globally exhibited, including at Haus der Kunst, Palais de Tokyo, the Smithsonian, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, and Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design. A recipient of the 2020 Art Matters Fellowship and the 2015 Sovereign Asian Art Prize from Hong Kong, she received her MFA from School of the Art Institute Chicago. Ali serves as a Senior Artist-in-Residence at the University of Washington Bothell, with an artistic practice between the Asia-Pacific region and the US.