koi-fish (walkway)_Astria-Suparak
Detail from “For Ornamental Purposes,” Astria Suparak, 3-channel digital video, 2022

“For Ornamental Purposes”

Astria Suparak
3-channel digital video

“Astria Suparak explore[s] Asian subjectivities and objecthood. […] For Ornamental Purposes treats the motif of a koi fish in three iterations, pulling from techno-Orientalist clichés in sci-fi films. While koi are typically presented as ornamental rather than vital, Suparak challenges this Orientalist symbology, reclaiming and speaking to lived Asian subjectivities in which the portrayal of self is rarely initiated by the subject. How might attachments reveal futurities that move away from techno-Orientalist clichés and toward an Asian-futurism?”— stephanie mei huang, curator, with her voice, penetrate earth’s floor

For Ornamental Purposes is one part of Astria Suparak’s ongoing research project, Asian futures, without Asians.



Curated by stephanie mei huang
Eli Klein Gallery, New York
April 13—June 5, 2022

Artists: Kelly Akashi, Patty Chang, stephanie mei huang, Christina Yuna Lee, Maia Ruth Lee, Candice Lin, Astria Suparak, Hồng-Ân Trương, Haena Yoo

With both honor and continued heartbreak, Eli Klein Gallery presents with her voice, penetrate earth’s floor, a group exhibition in memory of Christina Yuna Lee. Christina, a beloved employee of the gallery for over four years, was stalked and killed in NYC’s Chinatown on February 13, 2022.

Works by nine contemporary femme artists in the AAPI community, including Christina herself, will be presented to celebrate the life and grieve the death of Christina Yuna Lee. At least 50 percent of all sales will go directly to Christina Yuna Lee’s Memorial Fund to support the organizations and places of most significance to her.

“Hollow depression interred invalid to resurgence, resistant to memory. Waits. Apel, Appellation. Excavation. Let the one who is diseuse. Diseuse de bonne aventure. Let her call forth. Let her break open the spell cast upon time upon time again and again. With her voice, penetrate earth’s floor, the walls of Tartarus to circle and scratch the bowls’ surface. Let the sound enter from without, the bowl’s hollow its sleep. Until.” – Theresa Hak Kyung Cha

Death haunts the Asian diasporas in the Americas and across the Pacific arena. An unending tenor of mourning falls from lips to the earth’s floor, vibrating with the unease of diaspora. Spat vitriol to go back to where you came from; violent pathologizations of flesh; grief processes stolen by neocolonialism. The afterlives of imperialism, war, militarism, and the remains of losses that resist evading or forgetting. 


For Ornamental Purposes is a new 3-channel video work created for this exhibition.



“with her voice, penetrate earth’s floor” (New York: Eli Klein Gallery, 2022)
Digital catalogue, 55 pages
Download here.



OCULA: “Christina Yuna Lee, Art Worker Murdered in New York, Remembered at Eli Klein Gallery,” Sam Gaskin, April 11, 2022

Works in the exhibition address themes including racism, violence, and grief.

Thai-American artist Astria Suparak’s three-channel video For Ornamental Purposes (2022) zooms in on the holographic koi fish sometimes used in Western sci-fi to signify a more global future.

‘Suparak shifts the agency of the koi, and thereby, the Asian body and narrative,’ huang said. ‘Rather than envisioning Asian futures, without Asians, how might Asian-futurisms be envisioned?

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST, “Why is being an Asian-American woman in the US still a danger? Art exhibition in tribute to Christina Yuna Lee seeks answers,” Danielle Wu, April 18, 2022 

“Ultimately, the exhibition searches for the reasons why Lee’s identity – an Asian-American woman – is one that continues to endanger those who live with it.

It is not a yearning for representation, but rather the heavy burden that some bodies carry to represent nations oceans away, that the exhibition aims to confront.

What unifies the artists is a shared understanding of ‘what the experience is in the US right now, what Christina’s experience was in New York’, Huang says. […]

Astria Suparak’s For Ornamental Purposes (2022), a three-channel video, used scenes from films that cast Asian women only to be desired and conquered, pointing to the harm made possible by fantasy. […]

For the curator at least, it creates a rare space for AAPI women to mourn personal and cultural losses, and it grants permission to mourn for permanent losses that cannot be resolved by policy and legislation.

As Huang writes about childhood memories of attending funerals in China: ‘We have been robbed, as members of the diaspora in the West, from our grieving processes. Our grieving spaces, also, stolen.’

Such a loss has inspired new languages for this group of artists. […]

With Her Voice, Penetrate Earth’s Floor carves quiet moments like these to express how it feels to be broken.

CNN, “The art gallery where Christina Yuna Lee once worked honors her life and legacy,” Harmeet Kaur, April 18, 2022 

“Some of the exhibition’s powerful works grapple with themes of tragedy and violence. […]

‘Asian people are expected to dull their emotions in this country and be perceived as pleasant,’ said huang, who opts to lowercase their name to keep the emphasis on the art. ‘To be pleasant all the time means that you cannot grieve all the time. And I think it’s resulted in a lot of unprocessed grieving. Reminding ourselves to return to the grieving processes that our ancestors engaged in feels right at this time.’

Despite the sense of loss and tragedy that continues to haunt Asian Americans, the show is also meant to celebrate Lee — her life and the power she embodies in death. Her voice continues to reverberate in the movement against AAPI hate, and huang said they hope others in the community are able to find strength, too.

‘The only people that can really help us are ourselves, and we have to speak up,’ huang said. ‘As crippling as these events and crimes have been, I wanted to channel the grief into something that was social rather than isolated.'”

ARTNET: “Editors’ Picks: 14 Events for Your Art Calendar This Week, From Joan Jonas in Times Square to Art Inspired by Courtroom Dramas,” Sarah Cascone, April 19, 2022

Each week, we search for the most exciting and thought-provoking shows, screenings, and events, both digitally and in-person in the New York area. See our picks from around the world […].

NY DAILY NEWS: “Reflecting on violence in NYC at a tribute to Christina Yuna Lee,” April 15, 2022

ARTSY: “A Moving New Exhibition Pays Tribute to Christina Yuna Lee’s Start in the Art World,” Harley Wong, Apr 11, 2022

Borrowing a line from Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee (1982) for its title, the exhibition carries grief’s immense weight, as well as the heavy truth that racialized and gendered violence against Asian American women is not a foreign concept—even to supposedly cosmopolitan cities like New York. […]

huang said in an interview with Artsy. ‘Initially, I wasn’t sure if I was well enough to do the show, because the timeline is so urgent and this [violence] keeps happening. But it also became clear that it was an avenue to channel grief into something that was a more socialized mourning rather than feeling isolated.’

This also rang true for the participating artists, who were confirmed within days after huang and Klein decided to stage the show, just a week or two after Lee’s death. Organized while in close communication with Lee’s sister Angela, the show will dedicate at least 50 percent of proceeds from sales to the Christina Yuna Lee Memorial Fund, which supports the organizations and places that carried significance for Lee. The exhibition features the work of nine Asian American femme artists—stephanie mei huang, Kelly Akashi, Patty Chang, Maia Ruth Lee, Candice Lin, Astria Suparak, Hồng-Ân Trương, Haena Yoo, and Christina Yuna Lee herself. […]

‘As I navigate this grief, I’ve been learning that this is lifelong,’ huang said. ‘A space of mourning doesn’t necessarily have to be a space of pain.’”

TOKYO SHIMBUN, “アジア系ヘイト アートで憎しみを少しでも変えたい 米ニューヨークで美術展 (Asian Hate: An Exhibit in New York Changing Hatred With Art,” April 28, 2022

ABC7 NY EYEWITNESS NEWS: “Christina Yuna Lee honored with exhibit in West Village art gallery,” April 15, 2022

News 12 Westchester, “NYC gallery exhibit dedicated to stabbing victim Christina Yuna Lee,” May 12, 2022

Spectrum News NY1, “Woman killed in Chinatown honored at gallery,” May 11, 2022