ICA LA is pleased to present a new large-scale mural commissioned for the museum’s façade by the Berlin-based American artist Christine Sun Kim (b. 1980, Orange County, CA). Working across the mediums of drawing, performance, experimental sound, video, and large-scale murals, Kim’s work engages with the limits and possibilities of language—be it spoken, signed, or scripted. Often referencing musical scores, infographics, and emojis, her singular visual lexicon brings together sarcastic humor and incisive critique to illuminate the systems of power and ideology embedded in oral communications and investigate the complex realities of Deaf culture.
Titled Bounce Back (2023), this new site-specific mural builds on Kim’s recent body of work that focuses on debt—signed in ASL by one index finger tapping the open palm of the other. Depending on elements such as the directionality of the open palm, the force of the finger’s impact, and other non-manual cues like facial and bodily expression, one sign can carry multiple meanings. In this case, the word for “debt” can take on various nuances that indicate the type, severity, or urgency of the debt, or even allow the sign to slip into adjacent meanings like “owe” or “afford.” Creating her own kind of ASL notation, Kim makes reference to the tapping finger through the traces of its movements, incorporating into the drawing a double bouncing line reminiscent of those used in old cartoons or comic books to indicate motion. Moving from hand to hand, the bouncing lines underscore the relational aspect of debt, asking the viewer to examine what exactly is owed? And to whom? Offering a poignant meditation on systemic inequity and shared experience under debt, Kim’s mural asks us to consider our collective responsibility in contributing to the layers of financial, historical, social, and emotional debt that structure and define everyday life.
Christine Sun Kim: Bounce Back is organized by Amanda Sroka, Senior Curator, with Caroline Ellen Liou, Curatorial Assistant.
Commissioned by Palatine Capital Partners through the LA County Department of Arts and Culture Public Art in Private Development program.
ICA LA is supported by the Curator’s Council and Fieldwork Council.