EAF16 Artist Profile: Dachel Choi & Mathew Suen
“Something is coming,” Dachal Choi whispers ominously as she looks towards the East River from a bench on the edge of Socrates Sculpture Park. Together with her collaborator Mathew Suen, Choi has created AQ625: Site on the Move, now on view as part of the park’s annual Emerging Artist Fellowship Exhibition.
The project, which incorporates both physical and digital elements, evokes a dystopian future by recalling visual language used in movie posters that depict apocalyptic scenarios. Choi explains, “Our project began with this hypothetical situation: what if instead of going to a place, the place comes to you?”
In the future imagined by Choi and Suen, Socrates Sculpture Park – all five acres of the park – has become dislodged from the earth, slowly floated to the sky, and is hovering above the city, leaving in is wake a fifty-foot crater on the edge of Long Island City. “The park becomes free from gravity, yet its historical elements remain: Mark di Suvero’s sculpture on the edge, the outdoor studios and the current gates are still intact.”
Visitors to the park can see the physical aspect the project: a billboard-sized image in the grove of trees depicting this unexpected migration.
Choi and Suen are interested in how this dramatic change in physicality would transform the park and affect artists’ site-specific work. “How does one address site-specificity, if the site is constantly changing?” they ask.
Not interested in a single answer, Choi and Suen sought out collaborators to explore this conceptual conceit. Their co-creators’ projects are housed on AQ625’s digital platform-move.socratessculpturepark.org—which is an online extension of the dialogue sparked by their billboard on view in the park. Artists and architects, including Gustavo Gordillo, Gary Leggett, Henry Ng, and Michael Sims, have each contributed digital projects that offer myriad interpretations of this futuristic scenario.
“Though AQ625 is a hypothetical event, the conversations surrounding it are real.” For Choi and Suen, AQ625 is a logical extension of the wider narrative of development and displacement that is affecting the creative life of the city. For them, and for artists across New York City, these potentially absurd hypotheticals often become unfortunate realities.