Resident artist Catalina Ouyang tests an installation of her ‘hats with a heart of darkness’

A still from Catalina’s video piece, courtesy of the artist

Catalina Ouyang (St. Louis, MO) became interested in North Mountain because we’re in West Virginia, yet just up the hill from Shanghai — a sweet identity crisis of locations. How can the incidental name of a small town be a trace of a lost ancestral home? For Catalina, who identifies at once as an east coast, midwest, and second generation Chinese American, her understanding of the Chinese diaspora marks her distance from it. She filmed herself performing a series of simple motions next to the “Shanghai Unincorporated” sign outside the small town, to occupy this place of no return. Catalina’s practice involves sculpture, video, performance, and writing, and she often implicates her own body in these disciplines. At North Mountain, she is on a non-didactic exploration using old sneakers, horror film excerpts, and a traditional form of Chinese hanfu hats. The old sneakers are cut, bound, then manipulated to form small zombie hats — or ‘hats with a heart of darkness.’ They recall the battlefield and relay Catalina’s interest in how Western neoliberalism has coopted the ancient Chinese military text The Art of War towards it’s own purposes. In her work she attempts to problematize this interpretation of the text by following a nonlinear and intuitive approach: ‘If there is a suspicion that things are related, they probably are.’ This fall, Catalina will be pursuing a graduate degree in Sculpture at the Yale School of Art.