Mixed media, artist’s book, hand-dyed underwear with letter foil in shadow boxes
12″ x 12″ x 2″ (each)
In the artwork Underaware, I want to explore intimacy and tenderness by assembling personal objects and arrangements to tell stories of my love experiences as a Chinese gay man.
I hand-dyed my boyfriend and my underwear in a washed red dye. The use of different values and hues of red implies the influence of the “gayness” of a person because some of my relationship partners claimed they were “straight” or “just curious”. The arrangement of the underwear is purposeful. All objects are framed in a white shadow box; it becomes a bed for two people, and it becomes a page of an intimate moment. With the other six pages of my relationship status, Underaware is a series of works that express and discusses my personal moments with loved ones as a homosexual man.
Underwear is the closest clothing to the most private body parts; it is covering, protecting, and it is hiding. It stands in for an individual being. Taking off the underwear is a behavior of exposing the self, being honest to another, and experiencing intimacy skin to skin. The underwear contains the identity, the familiarity, of a person. Using underwear as an art object is a metaphorical expression and has a special meaning to LGBTQ people. The underwear expresses the conflicts of my identity; it is a symbol of my gender, yet it is the same gender I am attracted to.