Bonam Kim : Lu Zhang

June    July    August    September   October

Bonam Kim: 

Over the past five months, Lu and I have embarked on a deeply enriching journey, united by our shared experiences as immigrant artists and Asian women navigating the complexities of New York City. Hailing from different countries, we discovered a profound commonality in our experience: an evolving sentiment toward the concept of "home" and the creative ways we sustain familial bonds across vast oceans. Central to our journey has been the quest for flora significant to our respective cultures, a process that has not only been healing but has also laid the foundation for our future collaborations.

Lu Zhang: 

Herbs are like a continuation of memory. Care continues. Life continues.

Burdock root
The root helps to cleanse the body of waste products, and it is thought to be particularl good at helping with heavy metals.

We cut burdock root into thin slices and dry them. Roast them to the point where they do not burn. Put 3 or 4 slices of dried burdock root into one liter of warm water and drink it as a tea. We also make a side dish with burdock root and have it with rice.

The most impressive health benefits of magnolia include its ability to ease anxiety reduce gingivitis, treat menstrual cramps, and improve respiratory health. Magnolia bark also helps detoxify the body, aid in weight loss, and protect against severe allergic reactions.

In early spring, we unfold the small flower buds of magnolia by hand carefully and then cut off the stamens with scissors because flower stamens contain toxic substances. After this process, we dry them in the shade and fry them in a frying pan at a very low temperature so that they do not burn. Put one dried magnolia flower in one liter warm water and drink it as a tea.

山药 Chinese Yam (hairy root)
The root helps boost vital energy: Qi. Belong to Yin. Rich in essential nutrients potentially reduce blood sugar, improve cognition, immunity; may support women’s health and fertility (with progesterone)

We peel the skin, and cut into chunks, boil it with soups; or stir fry with green bean and lotus roots; or steam it with jam or honey, eat it as a healthy sweet.

Chrysanthemum (菊花)
Anti-inflammation, (下火)good for reduce stress, boost immune system, vision and heart health.

We often drink dry chrysanthemum flowers as tea. Put in hot water with some Gou qi especially in summer and fall. Clear lungs. There are many different kinds of chrysanthemum. Small baby ones, and big king chrysanthemum.

June   July    August    September    October

Bonam Kim: 

Watching you burn makes me have mixed feelings.

Lu Zhang: 

The question is the answer

It is hard to believe yourself whether the choice you make in your life is right or not
No answer no direction and no one to ask

“If life is a dream” there is no solution
That is unknown

But unknown will bring possibilities
What a strong soul to believe
Going towards to unknown
To allow thing to happen or not happen

To remove self
Instead succeeded all

When you don’t want anything
Maybe you’ll have everything


the question is the answer

Notes on translating for director Wang Bing
New York
Sep 2023

June   July    August    September    October

Bonam Kim:

August 7

After our conversation in June about ‘home’, I can’t help but think about my personal meaning of home. Is it a space or is it a memory of the people that mean something to me? I guess the second one is closer to my answer, but still not accurate. I moved a lot since I came to New York and whenever I pass by my old neighborhood I think about memories within that space. If I visit there right now, I will probably feel as a stranger, although it is prob the same interior. While reflecting on my experiences around being in a alie country I came up with the idea to create a figure of a human holding his or her home on the head.

August 10

Lu invited me to go to Museum of Chinese in America this month to browse and research herb book together. Before this happens, I want to do my own research on herbs from my own country so that we can have a more productive conversation. Info on herbs endemic to Korea seemed limited so I decided to visit the New York Public Library.

I found there are lots of commons between Korea and China. Ginkgo, Burdock and Yam jumped to my attention since my mom cooked them with rice a lot when I was living in Korea. She always saves fresh ginkgo seeds in the freezer so that I can bring them to New York whenever I visit Korea. I felt my ancestor’s wisdom and my mom’s love while doing the research.

Lu Zhang: 

When does it become so hard to leave New York?
Even Herb’s birthday week, when we use to take short trips upstate
We decided to “camp” on the street in the City

Can this sense of hard to leave New York be considered as one type of belonging?
Does New York become a place I feel comfortable enough to call home?

The most compatible state to be
is what is like to live in a not definite place
And the constant insecurity about belonging


far away
far near
but where

sometimes i feel i am in a trip
sometimes i feel i am home

Everytime I am in the mountains
I don’t know if I'm home.
The difference is
March is the spring in Xi’an
May is spring in New York
Water runs faster here than there
But fish still bite my toes
like the old summer times

Standing on the Bridge that Divides the World

Heart Bridge

June   July    August    September    October

Bonam Kim:

Lu and I visited the Metropolitan Museum to seek inspiration and connect with our ancestors' heritage.
During our visit, we were captivated by a tree, and this led us to discuss the concept of creating a tree-shaped sculpture for our show. I now require some drawings to design the sculpture, which could either be a literal representation of a tree or a more organic shape inspired by certain species.

Lu Zhang: 

June    July    August    September    October

Our June notes are based on our studio visits to each other. 
We shared our work with each other and updated our personal lives. The connection we would like to discover more is through herbs in our culture, especially for female health. 

Bonam Kim:

My first encounter with Lu was at Pratt Institute, and we reconnected later at the NARS artist residency. Our conversation and the artwork she showcased during the open studio left a strong impression on me. Lu had constructed a sizable wooden boat, large enough to accommodate three or four people. At its center was a Chinese ceramic checker, surrounded by tea and snacks. I found myself extremely at ease within this piece; it became a comfortable space to share stories about our cultures, and for me to learn more about hers.

What I truly appreciated was how her artwork transformed into a sanctuary, providing me with a sense of belonging that I had been missing since leaving my home country.

Lu Zhang: 

My first encounter with Bonam’s work was at Nars foundation. I walked into her studio and felt I walked into an absurd world that had an off scaled basketball court, hair brush with human hair, two wooden legs and silicone feet.. There is a sense of personal yet powerlessness to the surroundings from Bonam’s work that made impressions on me. It continued into the current studio visit with her this time. It's a body of work that just showed at Air Gallery. Miniature spaces but off scaled pigeon snooping in. Still the familiar surroundings and sense of powerlessness that expressed fully in these absurd sculptures.

Thursday, May 4th, 2023

Bonam studio visit 
Documenting journeys possibly makes it into a little publication - what form?
Thai eggplant 
Personal stories 

Bonam Kim:

"How do you perceive 'home' now, Lu? You've spent more than a decade here, but your roots are in China where you spent a significant part of your life. Does being away from China for such a long period influence your emotions when you revisit? I find myself wrestling with peculiar emotions whenever I go back to Korea. Despite my familiarity with it, I don't quite feel like I belong there, nor in the USA."
"I think our feelings might resonate. What, in your opinion, does 'home' signify to us?"

Lu Zhang: 

“I had a few years or I am still confused between the term ‘home’ and ‘hometown’. It never feels settled, only the matter of being closer to one or the other. It’s a constant changing state. It might explain the stage of being for most of us who immigrated about 10 years ago to the states. Familiar enough but not completely and far away enough but not completely. How do we capture that?”

Bonam Kim:

Last time I visited Korea I went to a temple that is very important for my family.

And where my grandmother’s (who passed away last year) mortuary tablet is. I think our family story and mutual connection to them was important in our first meeting in my studio.

Lu Zhang: 

The object that connects me and grandpa was plants. He passed away this year due to China’s Covid reopening. My dad is still trying to maintain most of the plants alive.

I migrated one plant called Mosquito that won't bite from his old backyard. Replanted in NY. My neighbor aunt accidentally helped me to sustain the life of this plant. 

Plant seems like a continuation of a memory. Life continues, care continues. 

Tuesday, June 6th, 2023

Lu Studio Visit 

Looking into healing herbs from both cultures 
Specifically helping female health

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