Daniel Shieh's Project and Event: "Familiarly Foreign"

Daniel Shieh's Project and Event: "Familiarly Foreign"

Sunday, March 29, 2020

KHN Alum (2020), Daniel Shieh's current event/project, Familiarly Foreign, investigates and speaks to the presence of "Asian objects in Non-Asian Homes," and the impact these objects have upon those who live in the home. When interviewed, Daniel asks his subjects for this project about their relationship with the object - where was it placed in the home? What memories are tied to this object? What does the object mean to you?

Familiarly Foreign was a participatory event; on March 14, 2020, Daniel Shieh, a visiting artist from Taiwan, engaged local residents in a story-gathering process at WAVE POOL'S Welcome Project. He asked people what kind of “Asian” objects they have in their homes and the story behind them. Participants were then invited to join in a week-long experience: keep their “Asian” objects at Welcome Project as part of an exhibition featuring these objects and their stories. During this period, participants might sense a noticeable lack in their homes where these objects once sat. Familiarly Foreign raises the question: What are the functions of “Asian” objects in non-Asian households? By gathering a multitude of these objects together, the exhibition revealed a more intimate relationship to Asian culture than previously imagined in a country where “Asian” is often equated with “non-American.”

Daniel Shieh's Artist Statement: "I create interactive performances and installations that encourage participants to understand each other beyond rigid identifications (masculine vs. feminine, native vs. foreign, authority vs. subordinate). My works usually involve two or more participants to activate. Once activated, they isolate parts of the participants’ bodies, such as the gaze or breath. Participants then present themselves to each other in a mediated manner, such as reflecting one’s gaze through mirrors or delivering one’s breath via an inflatable device.

The intimacy of mutual display, in which participants become hyper-aware of their existence in each other’s minds, is enveloped with a strangeness created by the mediation. This strangeness destabilizes the meaning of social categories and the participants’ usual identifications of each other. By fostering intimacy in strangeness, I challenge ways of understanding each other that rely on compulsory identifications."

A full interview and more information about this project will be in a future episode of Humans of KHN which will be feaured on KHN's instagram and Facebook pages. Daniel was interviewed by KHN Assistant Director, Sara Ammon, where they talked about this ongoing project, and he then conducted and interview and example of this project's purpose, where they talked about items Sara's father brought back from when he was living in Japan that were (and still are) continuosly displayed and interacted with in her childhood home.  

Daniel Shieh is an artist from Taiwan. He received his BFA from Washington University in St. Louis and recently completed an MDes degree in Art, Design, and the Public Domain at Harvard Graduate School of Design. He creates interactive artworks that encourage participants to view each other in a different perspective. He’s currently an artist in residence at Wave Pool. To learn more about Daniel and see more of his work, visit his website, and read his bio in our Resident Directory.

Congratulations, Daniel!


image credit: 1-3 images via Danieh Shieh's website, 4 via WAVE POOL - Welcome Project