Theresa Hak Kyung Cha

Passages Paysages, 1978 

10 November to 17 December 2005

Cha was born in Korea, moved to California aged 11, and came of age as an artist during a decade of enormous artistic, cultural, social and political transformation. Although Cha died tragically at a young age, she created a considerable body of work of great maturity, which as Lawrence Rinder acknowledges displays a “remarkably broad understanding of world religions, history, political science, film and film theory, linguistics, psychoanalysis, communications theory, cognitive psychology, and feminism.” In addition to her films and videos, her range of media included performance, slide projections, artists’ books, sculpture, mail art, text/sound works, and works on paper and cloth. The significance of Cha’s contribution to conceptual and experimental art of the 70s is being increasingly recognised with major displays at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Generali Foundation in Vienna and the Tapies Foundation in Barcelona.

In 1976 Cha wrote, "The main body of my work is with language, looking for the roots of language before it is born on the tip of the tongue. Since having been forced to learn languages more ‘consciously’ at a later age, there has existed a different perception and orientation toward language. Certain areas that continue to hold interest for me are: grammatical structures of a language, syntax, how words and meaning are constructed in the language system itself, by function or usage, and how transformation is brought about through manipulation, process as changing the syntax, isolation, removing from context, repetition, and reduction to minimal units."