Re-enacting the Transnational Adoptee

Yong Sun Gullach2015

EVA International

EVA International
Limerick, Ireland

Yong Sun Gullach (b. 1967, Korea) is a Korean-Danish artist and activist operating at the boundaries of performance, poetry, video, sound, and installation art.
Her main themes investigate hidden or subconscious emotions and traumas to uncover stories that are embedded in everyday life. Her work stems from her own experiences of gender, race, identity, and nationality.
‘I do not construct reality – my body is reality,’ says Yong Sun about her practice in which she investigates a lack of self-understanding she or others might have and how to overcome such feelings that something is missing. Her aim is to create an impact by means of physical ‘traces’ left on other people’s memories, and to make this dialogue visible.
Re-enacting the Transnational Adoptee (2015) is a thirty-minute performance in which Yong Sun emancipates her own body by embodying mental processes of the transnational adoptee. After a ritual of what she calls ‘de-dressing’, she starts a battle against dust, paper, and time, and attaches texts, textile objects, and sound to her own body. As the artist frantically wraps her body in white, she visualizes her role and identification as an adoptee in a Western society. This process raises questions about birth, becoming, trade, renewed body, consequences, truth, and the reclamation of lost culture.
The performance displays how the subject is framed and displaced within the scope of transnational adoption through an attempt to emancipate the adopted body by re-performing the circumstances of the process and the constant battle of the right to self-definition for the adoptee’s self. The artist is at risk of being seen as ungrateful, as victimizing her position, and as being disloyal to the Western culture that integrated her. The performance uses rituals and theatre to frame the history of transnational adoptions, which is closely linked to the history of Western colonization, and emphasizes the structural suppression and injustices inherited from the past.


  • Title: Re-enacting the Transnational Adoptee
  • Creator: Yong Sun Gullach
  • Date Created: 2015
  • Location: Cleeve's Condensed Milk Factory, Limerick, Ireland
  • Medium: live performance

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