And then there were none. (2013)

And then there were none. is a performance video and photography series that belong to a larger artistic research project called the Chocolate Kiss that the artist began working on in 2012. RHEE examined the concept of the Other through the perception of Blackness, using the lens of the racial triangulation theory and her Asian subject position. Coined by political scientist and Professor Claire J. Kim in her essay, The Racial Triangulation of Asian-Americans, the theory underscores the entanglement of the racial trajectories of minorities, specifically between Blacks and Asians, who have historically been pitted up against each other to each group’s detriment. Kim writes, “Asian Americans have not been racialized in a vacuum, isolated from other groups; to the contrary, Asian Americans have been racialized relative to and through interaction with Whites and Blacks. As such, the respective racialization trajectories of these groups are profoundly interrelated.”

In And then there were none., an awkward yet powerful performance, the artist-scholar Abbéy Odunlami and RHEE engage in a disturbing give and take. The much bigger and taller Odunlami towers over the already seated petite RHEE as he approaches her, but we’re not quite sure who is directing the action. Through this curious confrontation of a Black man and an Asian woman, this work suggests the complex ways that racialized and gendered bodies are consumed and controlled. RHEE’s passivity is underscored by her stoic and ostensible obedience, while Odunlami’s unease becomes more noticeable through his aggressive yet vulnerable insistence. This S&M food play of a problematically named European chocolate sweet (since 1980 officially Schokokuss/Chocolate Kiss, originally named Negerkuss/Negro Kiss) between a Black male and an Asian female, both of whom have been historically ostracized, sexualized, and fetishized, confound our expectations. In addition, imagining that the viewer’s perspective would be from a “standard” white gaze, the artist intentionally forces the white position in the triangle to wait outside of the frame. Thus, the theory of racial triangulation is only fulfilled with the spectator’s “white gaze,” who observes but doesn’t play an active role.

Publications and/or Exhibitions of Artwork from the Chocolate Kiss Project:

2018 The Ten N, performance collaboration with Daniel Dodd-Ellis and Marie Yan, on the closing reception, Archipelago, Reinbeckenhallen, Berlin, Goldrausch Künstlerinnenprojekt
2018 N-Kissing Bondage, performance collaboration with Daniel Dodd-Ellis, Not A Fortune Cookie, ACUD Galerie, Berlin, curated by Vickie Truong
2018 Van Hoesen, Brett M. Winning: kate-hers RHEE and the Culture of Resistance in Golden Spoon, Dirt Spoon, Goldrausch Künstlerinnenprojekt Catalog, Berlin: 2018
2018 N-Kissing Booth, performance, Torrance Art Museum as part of CO/LAB III, Torrance, CA, invited by oMo Art Space
2018 MANIFESTO: A Modest Proposal, Pitzer College Galleries, Claremont, CA, curated by Ciara Ennis, Jennifer Vanderpool
2017 In Conversation with kate-hers RHEE: The Black, Asian and White Racial Triangulation, Contemporary&: Platform for International Art from African Perspectives (8 Aug 2017)
2017 If Life Gives You Lemons Make Lemonade, 2017, SOMA Artspace, Berlin, curated by Nabi Nara
2017 Loving Blackness, Asian Arts Initiative, Philadelphia, PA, curated by Jaishri Abichandani
2015 48 Stunden Neukölln, Stage and Cafe, centrum, Berlin, curated by Marieke Spendel
2015 Double Exposure, Berlin Open Studio, invited by Anja Teske, lecture by Matthias Reichelt
2015 TASTE, Montserrat, Los Angeles, CA, curated by Sionnan Hillier and Antoinette Adams
2015 Schwitzkästen, Künstlerhaus Dortmund, curated by Jörg Daniel
2014 Virtual Reality by Real Virtuosity, Coohaus Gallery, NY, curated by Kyunghee Pyun
2014 12×12 Video Lounge, Berlinische Galerie: Museum of Modern Art, curated by Anne Bitterwolf
2013 7 Drawings, 28 Kisses, as part of Works on Paper, Month of Performance Art, MOMENTUM, Berlin, curated by Rachel Rits-Volloch

Notable Collections 

Studio Derek Fordjour