Annamarie Ho’s recent videos have a particular interest in actions originating from and directed toward China and North Korea. Political and cultural events are examined and re-interpreted with the use of critical humor.
RATS, 2013, 2:46 minutes
In January 2013, the New York Times reported that Chinese hackers had broke into its computers on September 13, 2012 and were expelled four months later by Mandiant, a cyber security firm. Then, in February 2013, the New York Times reported that Mandiant had discovered that the majority of cyber attacks against American corporations and governmental agencies had originated from a single building in Shanghai, PLA Unit 61398, which houses the hacker group known as “Comment Crew” or “Shanghai Group.”
RATS envisions the final showdown from the spaghetti Western A Fistful of Dollars as a dual between the New York Times building and the PLA Unit 61398 (although the Shanghai Group was not responsible for the New York Times attacks).
Woolly Galaxy, 2012, 2:46 minutes
The Mass Games are staged every year in the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea. As thousands of performers execute incredibly choreographed mass gymnastics, 30,000 children in the grandstand hold up colored pages from a flipbook, which form detailed images when shown in combination. The background imagery—socialist-realist propagandist iconography—changes as the children flip through the different pages of their books in highly-synchronized, animated sequences.
Woolly Galaxy recreates a smaller and less-elaborate Mass Games card stunt, depicting the imagined trajectory of the North Korean long-range rocket Unha, which North Korea attempted to launch into space in April 2012. The rocket’s mission failed when it landed into the ocean two minutes later.
The Umbrellas of May 35th, 2009, 3:56 minutes
For the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square on June 4, 2009, the Chinese government prevented memorials from occurring and blocked many popular websites. Furthermore, any online postings originating from China were censored from using “June 4;” bloggers creatively began referring to the date as “May 35” instead.
Western journalists attempted to report on the anniversary from the square; however, Chinese policemen posing as tourists blocked the cameramen with umbrellas. The Umbrellas of May 35th re-imagines the umbrella-wielding undercover policemen as Red Guard dancers from propagandist Communist ballets from the Cultural Revolution.
Dread Spawn (Head Wrong), 2011, 39:15 minutes
Released at the height of Cold War paranoia, the 1984 film Red Dawn follows a group of high school students as they battle the Soviet army that has occupied their town. In 2008, MGM decided to remake Red Dawn, with a story line faithful to the original, except that China replaced the USSR as the enemy.
Dread Spawn (Head Wrong) examines how Hollywood could only set both the original Red Dawn and its remake in small town, predominantly white, middle America. How would the fantastical story line of the Red Dawn remake function if the Chinese People’s Liberation Army were to invade New York City’s Chinatown instead and was met by multicultural, brainy high school students?
Late in post-production, MGM realized the remake would not prove profitable in the lucrative Chinese market and the enemy was digitally altered from China to North Korea.
Annamarie Ho (b. 1980, San Diego, California) works with video, performance, sculpture, and installation. Her work has been exhibited in the United States, Europe, and Asia, and most recently at the Queens Museum of Art (New York), Vanderbilt University (Nashville), 21.dokumentART European Film Festival for Documentaries (Szczecin, Poland), and the Gwangju International Media Performance Art Festival (Gwangju, Korea). She received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and her BA from the University of California, Berkeley. She lives and works in New York.
[Curated by Vox Populi members]