2018 Create Change Fellow | 2021 Creative Action Fund Awardee
Sunset Park | Community organizing, Installation, Multidisciplinary, Performance Theater
Jaime Sunwoo is a Korean-American multidisciplinary artist born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She’s inspired by unapologetic delights, like the numbing kick of Sichuan peppers, the funky freshness of durians, and the salty goodness of SPAM.
What artist, curator, activist or project has influenced or inspired you?
I’m inspired by Jaimie Warren and Matt Roche’s Whoop Dee Doo series. I had the wonderful opportunity to work on their community-based variety shows in New York. It was a collaborative experience where all were welcome to participate, regardless of skill level. We used cardboard, fabric, hot glue guns, paper, and paint to build the shows, and though the sets were immersive and impressive, it was liberating to know that it was all ephemeral‚to be enjoyed at the moment. The shows were free to the public and were accessible in every way possible. In the Whoop Dee Doo show at Knockdown Center, interpreters distributed headsets to audience members that needed live translations from English to Spanish. Whoop Dee Doo inspired me to pursue more community-based work.
What place in your neighborhood is personally meaningful to you and why?
I live in Sunset Park, and my favorite part of the neighborhood is the park itself. From the top of the hill, you can see the Manhattan skyline‚Äì a humble but precious view of the city, which shimmers like jewels at night. The park is a common ground between the predominantly Chinese east side and the mostly Latino west side of the neighborhood. At the base, you’ll see women doing aerobics to Chinese pop and teens practicing routines for their salsa clubs. Families picnic on the grass and kids fly kites. In the summer, everyone cools off at the free outdoor pool. I’ve spent many days sketching, reading, and hanging out with friends at the park. And of course, I’ve enjoyed beautiful sunsets there.
2021 Creative Action Fund | Specially Processed American Me
BRIClab presents a work-in-progress excerpt from Jaime Sunwoo’s Specially Processed American Me, a surreal autobiographical performance using SPAM, the canned meat, as a portal into Jaime Sunwoo’s Asian American upbringing and her family’s experiences of the Korean War. It investigates SPAM’s legacy in the military, its significance in the Asia-Pacific, and its influence on Asian cuisine through music, shadowplay, and cooking.
Oscillating wildly between absurd humor and sober tragedy, Specially Processed American Me is a thought-provoking exploration of one of America’s most misunderstood foods. In addition to performances, Specially Processed American Me holds food history and storytelling workshops over a communal SPAM meal. The world premiere will be in January-February 2022 at Dixon Place, co-produced by Ping Chong and Company, Free Rein Projects, and Dixon Place.