_neuter_ality_- video+performance - 2019

a multimedia collaboration with

Yunuen Rhi (concept + performance) & Brandon Johnson (sound)

_neuter_ality_ is the video component for an on-going, multimedia ritual performance entitled Neuterality by artist Yunuen Rhi. Originally commissioned by the Montreal Arts Interculturels "Taking Place" Performance Series, it was also exhibited at the Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles as part of a two-night salon entitled Well Born, curated by Elizabeth T. Vazquez, Yunuen Rhi and Kandis Williams.  


As a stand-alone piece, this video delves into the darker implications of Western development and dominance through the West’s fixation with itself and its progression, all while documenting the lead up to Yunuen’s traveling transmutation of the historically cursed relic. Through documentation of the knife, archive video, and a haunting composition by Berlin-based artist Brandon Johnson, _neuter_ality_ speculates the parallels of past and present, and where fantasies of the future may belong, if it all. Progress? Perhaps. But at what cost and for whom?

On May 16, 2019, at the Montreal Arts Interculturels (MAI), Yunuen Rhi altered a Hitler-youth Nazi knife with a dental drill, inscribing the tongue of the Mexica Calendar of the Sun on it’s blade. This was Phase I of its transformation into a Tecpatl Sacred Mexica knife, celebrated in a de-eugenizing-clinical setting. Yunuen inherited this knife at age ten from their naval historian stepfather, Vincent O’Hara. It was an American victory trophy he had received from his uncle who served in WWII as a paratrooper. The full story of where his uncle originally got the knife is unknown. Yunuen describes the transmutation of this knife as a prayer and medium to unite communities throughout North and South America, as it is further altered in key cities. They cite it as a way to neutralize and re-appropriate the symbols that have continued to violate and fragment our collective body and Turtle Island (aka the American continents). The knife will eventually travel back to Germany and Austria in a completely transformed state for its final ceremony there.

"Yunuen dismantles the term 'neutral' and the meaning it takes in the eddies of diplomacy that normalize the confinement and eradication of 'the other.' DNA/seed patenting, mining/displacement, prisons, detention centers, ethnocide and museums are current examples. As a sacrificial gesture to decode “neuterality,” their ritual functions as a transmutation of a controversial symbol to reveal a fourth space."

(from MAI press release