Jaeyeon Shin

Microbial Speculation of Our Gut Feelings
Artistic Discipline: Interdisciplinary
Category: Brooklyn Arts Fund
Grant Year: 2020
Location: Clinton Hill

Tiffany Jaeyeon Shin is a Korean artist, curator, and community organizer. Shin has exhibited at Knockdown Center, Tiger Strikes Asteroids, Cuchifritos Gallery, Disclaimer Gallery, SPRING/BREAK, Trestle Gallery, Local Project, Abrons Arts Center, AC Institute, and many others. She is a 2019 Visiting Artist Fellow at UrbanGlass, 2019 Col(Lab) Visiting Artist at Princeton University, and 2020 artist-in-residence at Recess Session. Shin is the recipient of the NARS Emerging Curator 2017 award and Note of Exceptional Merit in Artistic Practice from Alliance Van Lier. Her work has been written about in numerous publications including Artforum, Brooklyn Rail, BOMB, ArtAsiaPacific, Hyperallergic, and more.

Shin’s "Microbial Speculation of Our Gut Feelings" investigates gut microbes as a site to unpack immigrant health, offering possibilities of animation and vibrant materiality of immigrant bodies. She will be transforming Recess into an immersive indoor garden and micro-brewery in which I home-brew lactic acid and directly use it to facilitate plant growth and seed germination, a tradition used in Korean natural farming (Jadam organic farming). She will be planting various plants and vegetables throughout two months of the artist residency which will be directly harvested and foraged for a final program: a free and public dinner gathering.

Her project responds to research from scientific journal Cell in 2018, which showed immigrants and refugees losing the diversity of their gastrointestinal microbes almost immediately after arriving in the United States within six to nine months, making them more vulnerable to developing metabolic diseases post-immigration. Specifically, they lose native microbes in their stomach and then acquire alien ones that are more common in European-American people. The gut microbial composition governs so many of our bodily systems: our skin, neurotransmitters, immunity, metabolism, mental health, and the digestion of literal matter and content. If the ecosystem of an immigrant’s gut is shaped by the place one calls home, one contends with the consequences of assimilation, displacement, coloniality, and racialization with gastrointestinal materiality; a body under constant microbial entropy.

The project asks: How can we offer new frameworks to understand the soil's microbial network to the microbial content in our stomachs? In what ways do cultural and global processes become negotiated, digested, and become central to the production of raced and immigrant bodies? Rather than relying on an able-bodied schema and normalizing goal of conformity, cure, and assimilation, how can we invest in ideas of embodiment as a process, one through affective labor, cultivation, and care?