Atlanta, Georgia, USA
May 16, 2021 & July 18, 2021
I Love Onyew
I am Onyew, Bong-in Kim’s first child, and very subtly his favorite out of five kids. When I was in middle school, i told my dad that I was going to pack a bag and run away to scape suburbanism and the limitations of my youth. His reply was short and sweet: keep in touch.
I’ve watched my dad being nothing but himself, no matter the circumstance. He’s picked up an assortment of skills for odd jobs here and there to feed us, using his body and his creativity, no English. You might hire him to build a deck or weld a railing, paying for labor and supplies, so that you may not notice these function serving structures, save for its potential flaws. Only when it’s art are you called to notice the labor.
His lessons to us in life were to be kind, make art, live boldly, and don’t ever regret not trying something. He loves to say yes and figure out how to make it happen after. His approach in art is much the same: say yes until it works. We used to go to fields on Sundays with a metal detector. I would watch as my dad smoked cigarettes and walked around with the metal detector, pointing at the ground where the metal was buried for one of us to dig. This was the first yes. He has a warehouse full of metal scraps, each piece loved and waiting. The second yes. As he finds different ways to fuse these orphaned scraps, he tells them yes, believing in the power of art, in the function of it. He doesn’t question why he does it. To make nonfunctional 3D objects because to be seen is its function. Much like us, we would like to be seen, to be told yes, to abandon function.
Thank you for reading. Please enjoy the show.
P. S. I love you too, dad.
We follow the road as it curves, we see the rise of the condos. To our right, they are almost completed, and to our left are cinderblock towers. PLASTER walks through the canyon of condos, nothing else is visible to him. He begins to climb a staircase and finds DRYWALL asleep, nestled away on the future landing of a fifth floor.
PLASTER: What are you doing here?
DRYWALL: (startled) What are YOU doing here?
PLASTER: I seem to have been summoned without much ceremony. Well, quite in line with what I’ve been told about this–
DRYWALL: Aha! I was summoned here on a big truck. You can join our pile 🙂 we are just waiting.
PLASTER: (Chuckles) Summoned! (whispers) Imbecile! No matter, I’m not here to join your pile. I’m looking for this materialist séance, (fumbles in pocket, pulls out a worn quarter-sheet) it says here (mumbles inaudibly) «beneath The Wendy’s?» I cannot make sense of this. Why didn’t they include a map?
DRYWALL: Séance? What’s that? Can I come?
PLASTER: (Beneath his breath) Perhaps this isn’t the spot after all. (Loudly) Listen, I need help finding this tunnel, what street are we on? What’s that? No, no, you can’t come. The whole point of a séance is to access what isn’t already available and, my dear, you are merely the top sheet of a pile of dozens. From what I can see…well you and your peers, these awful gray blocks, are really all I can see. No, no, no, you’ve been paid for and shipped I, however, have been summoned.
DRYWALL: Oh, I have no idea what you mean. But this is the first conversation I’ve had and I don’t want it to stop!
PLASTER: (Looks skyward) Perhaps if I float above this… (looks from side to side)
DRYWALL: NO! NO! Don’t leave me! Perhaps there’s something else, something that could help me be summoned—(bursts into tears, darker spots emerge along his gray body)— Just wait a little while! I’ll get older, be forgotten and rare, too! Have pity! Think what it must be like for me. I have no idea where I am, where I’m FROM! (sobbing loudly) Tell me, please tell me! What is a tunnel, or séance, or a map?!!
(PLASTER reaches a dusty hand for DRYWALL but lets it drop, turns to the empty expanse of red clay which surrounds the cement tower where he hovers) I’m a ghost—
\ PLASTER: –you see, from this same place. Why are you screaming? You are the wall of a ghost town, too! These structures, condos you call them? They themselves are a tunnel which ferries dreams from waking life into little sleeping foreheads, brows furrowed to forget what might have been. The air is rich with the lives and deaths of billions of creatures, and you, dear Drywall, serve to cover up the structure, as I once did. But all the dead, and all the pasts lie in wait for moments like these!
How can you be so afraid? Who taught you to fear ghosts without teaching you about the séance?
PLASTER: (begins to float) I’m leaving you, now, (to himself) but what about my future? Do I exist only to be summoned?
DRYWALL: WAIT! No, I’m not afraid! I want to come, too!
PLASTER: But you’re merely yesterday’s dust packed densely.
DRYWALL: SO?!? You’re the same! You are just older and dustier!
PLASTER: But each particle of my dust sings like blood and has for always. I am slaked lime, brought out of limestone from the Valley and the Ridge, my cousins lie atop the world, survived Pompeii—
DRYWALL: Please! Don’t leave me here! I was fine before but now that we’ve spoken… I’ll be so lonely without you!
PLASTER: (Still floating away, slowly, mumbling in a low voice) I suppose I’m already in my own future…
DRYWALL: And, and you need me! What’s a past without a present?
Plaster pauses, bits of him showering down atop the pile of drywall. He begins to float back toward the cinderblocks until he is resting against Drywall. They are both trembling. Cracks begin to run along the lengths of their bodies as they form a pile of dust that is swept up by a summer breeze. The particles mix, swirling in the air toward this brick tunnel.
—Text by Sophie Whittemore
David Onri Anderson, Laura Bejarano, Robert Chamberlin, Æthelred Eldridge, Briana Hernandez, Michelle Laxalt, Parisa Ott, Ato Ribeiro, Dorothy Stucky, Lina Tharsing, Ally White.