February 5 – March 12, 2023
Chinese American Museum of Chicago
Through various manipulations of newsprint via sculptural and print interventions, the show depicts a version of childcare that supported revolutionary action, particularly the publishing of Unity by the League of Revolutionary Struggle. LRS was a radical communist group that emerged in 1978 upon the merger between the August 29th Movement, a Chicano revolutionary organization, and I Wor Kuen, an Asian American revolutionary organization, both influenced by Mao and followed Marxist-Leninist thought. Later the LRS merged with other groups, such as the Revolutionary Communist League, a primarily African American communist organization.
Unity, the newspaper, reported on LRS’s activism in the labor movement, student movements for ethnic studies, anti-apartheid movement, working women’s rights, and progressive politics across the US and was published bi-monthly in English, Spanish, and Chinese. The paper was published between 1978 through 1992. In those 14 years, comrades married and had babies. The LRS childcare system was created for women to continue participating and holding leadership positions while raising children. That system is what raised me and countless other now-grown adults.
Rather than presenting a workbook on collective childcare that the League used, UNITY takes Unity, the newspaper, as a point of departure to feel through a movement as a mothering environment. The body of work grows out of memories from the people who grew up in childcare and who can recall the viscerality of our upbringing. The work in UNITY pushes into the imprint of our inherited politics to make a less coherent party line. Through interviews and navigation of Unity’s reporting, layout, and process, I ask, how do our memories, however mundane they might be, evoke a textured, vexed, and intergenerational account of revolutionary struggle? Can we feel how fiery politics, and ideological desire, are cast, like aluminum plates or lead type, into childhood and emotional attachment? That is where this work begins.
What kind of world or people is manifested out of sentiment toward the left? That is where the work continues beyond this exhibition.