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b-day, bi-det, bye-day

(in progress) 

August 21, 2023
I am starting to draft this nine days out from my birthday. The hurricane I metaphorically doomwhispered about has hit Los Angeles. I never saw it. I did not know it was happening until two days ago, when my friend Patrick mentioned he was getting supplies with his son Milo, unable to help me in an emergency move situation with little notice and the atmospheric onslaught. I was already gone, in Shanghai, but had less than 20 hours to evacuate my cat Fernie and most important archival or sentimental belongings from my home, which I was the sole lease-owner on.

I have been, since birth, phallic-phobic, terrified of pregnancy, and on the asexual spectrum. In my sexless, teenage first love, that lasted two+ years, and subsequent first heartbreak, I would put a handcloth on my partner’s genitals while we showered together. I said please! don’t let it touch me. If it does, I will get pregnant! I love bathing with others. I spent a lot of time in Japan, where one family shares the same bathwater. Though, you must shower before you bathe. The bathwater remains pristine, despite the transition of lapping bodies.

piss series
(August, 2023 - )
35mm transferred to digital

les bow

May, 2023

I have locked myself
In the bathroom again
Before 8 am
With the lights off
Taking a s(h)itting shower
With trance Enya remixes playing
On Youtube

My sadness is interrupted by an ad
To relieve constipation
Is your poop backed up?
Do you suffer from anal fissures?
Are you full of shit?
I finally reach beyond the shower curtain
To press skip with wet fingers

I am on the precipice of saying to you
Over Enya and running water
through the door
Hold on, I’m just recreating my mother’s womb

We returned to the sea to comb
For miracles
All we found was giant kelp
And bladderwrack
One beached seal
One beached sea lion
Poisoned by acid

S(h)itting on driftwood
(We nearly took home
For the memorial garden
we made for a mystery cat)
We toasted to the beached pair
With plastic cups of Prosecco

The only miracle
We found
Was a rock that looked like the moon
But I questioned its legitimacy—
Who it had been formed by

My roommate accuses me
Of being a hermit
You’re right
What I don’t say is
It hurts to go outside
And not talk about death

I used to stare at the sun
In my courtyard once it became visible
like I would death
Try to find the edge
At which point it became blinding
But that’s the thing about
That which is blinding
There is no edge
Just a finch bullying a hummingbird
now obstructing my edge-play

– stephanie mei huang

Froggy, you’re allowed to be a misandrist
Mirena © IUD, flexible plastic, 52 mg of released levenorgestrel, uterine blood

how to hobble a young horse

PULPO GALLERY, Murnau am Staffelsee, 16 July - 28 August 2022

“That the domain of the animal is treated as a zone of deferral means that animality subtends a great deal below the white human man at the top, who in spite of his own superior position, can be dragged down by his own queer association.” - Mel Y. Chen, “Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering and Queer Afftect”

The horse has become imprecise. She is at once weaponized and abstracted as the symbol of the “free” and the “wild,” at once domesticated with a developed backbone to support human weight. She is at once simianized and anthropomorphized.

green requiem for myself iii
oil on linen, sisal, horseshoes

how to hobble a young horse explores the slippery terrains of animality, constraint, and consent, in both taking on the figure of the Chinese cowboy/girl and the horse in the American (U.S.) West. huang shifts animalities, in becoming them, rejecting them, and transmuting them. The body of work includes performance, film/video, sculpture, painting and photography.

animatronics horse

bay of hail Ii

copper elegy iii
oil on canvas, silk, horse bit

copper elegy Iv
oil on canvas, silk, horse bit

how to hobble a young horse (publication)
TEXT BY stephanie mei huang, Clara Tang, Sonya Merutka, Arne de Boever and Allison C. Smith.
PHOTOGRAPHS OF WORK BY stephanie mei huang, Abe Heath and Andrew Siedenburg.

Digital Offset Printing
Foil Stamped Cover & Edge Painting
254 x 203 mm
136 pages

Printed in Germany

three of clubs i
ceramic, gold

how to hobble a young horse
mini-dv converted to digital video, sound

green requiem for myself ii
oil on linen, sisal, horseshoes

The exhibition is named after huang’s most recent performance, in which huang’s cowboy avatar Stirrup Steph with her animatronic horse, Diamond, re-enacts and distorts a found video tutorial of a cowboy demonstrating in disconcertingly domineering and gendered language “how to hobble a young horse.” Stirrup Steph inscribes themselves into the script in the way that they inscribe themselves into the frontier of the American West, a mythological space they recognize as biopolitically, historically, and thus, residually as not belonging to them. Through racial melancholia, how do we navigate new conditions from which we speak and new ways of inhabiting our subjectivities? How can we begin to consider melancholia as a realistic and productive response to the insidious underbelly of American history?

lope studies i-iv
mixed media

This eponymously titled exhibition self-animalizes while also re-animalizes and suggests, at the shift away from Stirrup Steph, that huang is perhaps not a cowboy, but a horse, or both. A carousel horse finds kinesis through a windshield wiper motor. Stirrup Steph’s animatronics horse, Diamond, neighs if you pat her. A roping dummy is topped with a ceramic ox/horse/dragon-head rather than a steer head. In taking on different reimagined animalized subjectivities, Stirrup Steph acknowledges, plays with, and reclaims the submissive drive of the cowboy and the American West.

copper elegy ii
oil on canvas, silk, horse bit

rope elegy i
oil on canvas, silk, calf hobble

three of hearts, two of intents i

(self-portraits as) neither donkey nor horse

Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles
Book & Printed Matter Lab
June 26 – August 1 2021
Curated by Allison C. Smith

The exhibition ‘(self-portraits as) neither donkey nor horse’, centers, celebrates, obscures para-narrativism and auto-theory: a critical practice deeply rooted in queer research and practice. It is through the vehicle of drag, self-portraiture and biography that huang erodes the violent mythologies that perpetuate expansionist, exceptionalist, and settler colonial narratives, while excavating forgotten, erased, and partial histories. ‘(self-portraits as) neither donkey nor horse’, while speaking to huang’s various and fractured avatarisms, prioritizes the narrative of Stirrup Steph— the youngest and first woman to be inaugurated into the Cowboy Artists of America (CAA), a brotherhood dedicated to conserving the culture and history of the old west.

bay of hail i (roping dummy), 2021

clay, found cattle tags, found ribbon, sisal, plastic, metal

The tall and true tale of Stirrup Steph, and huang's splitting avatars, begs the question: could "cowboy drag," a form of racialized, gendered, affective drag, not unlike code-switching, an embodied passibility, provide a mimetic form of deception/self-preservation? Could it scramble systems of prediction projected upon huang’s body/identity? What are the alluring possibilities that result from racial melancholia: self-contradicting negotiations with pleasure and pain, multiple selves, identity/dis-identity formation?

In the wake of the 2021 Atlanta Spa Shootings, ‘(self-portraits as) neither donkey nor horse’ addresses biopolitical and xenophobic rhetoric that finds its roots in19th century “yellow peril” and is regurgitated/perpetuated in a 21st century anti-Chinese discourse surrounding Covid-19. huang’s work speaks to an urgency of visualizing melancholia and the exposure of grief— a melancholic fixation on that which excludes you: the implausibility of the Stirrup Steph.

video, sound 

three of hearts, two of intents 三心二意 i

how are you (after adrian piper) ii, 2021

Digital offset print
In collaboration with Christina Huang

how are you (after adrian piper) i, 2021

Digital offset print
In collaboration with Nat Moonhill

how are you (after adrian piper) iii, 2021

Digital offset print
In collaboration with Christina Huang

self portrait of three years of my life in Marfa, TX as the only full time East Asian resident
In collaboration with Ada Smith

self portrait of three years of my life in Marfa, TX as the only full time East Asian resident ii
In collaboration with Ada Smith

requiem for myself
oil on linen, horseshoes, sisal

three of hearts, two of intents 三心二意 iii
clay, sisal

neither donkey nor horse

neither donkery nor horse
carousel horse, windshield wiper motor, resin, steel, oil paint, 12V power supply

how to paint a rocking horse

VHS-C converted to digital, sound, carousel horse,
windshield wiper moto 12v power supply

white vegetable

white vegetable is a series of single-take 16mm films that explore the racially melancholic processes of fixation, ingestion, repulsion, and regurgitation. In Chinese, the direct translation for napa cabbage (baicai 白菜) is white vegetable.  In Melancholy and Race, Anne Anlin Cheng remarks: “since the melancholic subject experiences resentment and denigration for the lost object with which he or she is identifying, the melancholic ends up administering to his or her own self-denigration.” She continues to elaborate that ìthe melancholic is not melancholic because he or she has lost something but because he or she has introjected that which he or she now reviles,” resulting in the melancholic “choking on...the hateful and loved thing he or she just devoured.”

white vegetable i
16mm transferred to digital

camera by Erica Sheu

white vegetable ii 
16mm transferred to digital

white vegetable iii
16mm transferred to digital

camera by Erica Sheu