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Critical Writing


Chinyere Okafor


We give gratitude to the energy of care that maintains all living and non-living beings. Gratitude to political and cultural ancestors, All the hands and minds that labored and created everything in the spaces we inhabit, Praise the care that feeds, sustains, and celebrates existence.


edited prayer from annual Resurrection of Care ceremony from the Golden Dome School - taken from handout during Choi’s special programming

On a chilly weekday night, I briskly walked from my bus stop to Recess to catch the opening of Suhyun Choi’s project. Entering the warm space, one is immediately greeted by the smells and sounds of hot food, conversation, and laughter. Choi utilizes ritual acts to initiate the transformation of the exhibition space to one of sacred convening - guests leave their shoes by the entrance of the exhibit while a sea of attendees in white clothing pour into the gallery as an act of honoring the grief ritual that anchors this work. The core of Suhyun Choi’s installation is a short-length film displayed on an altar enclosed by cream, pink, and mauve carnations. The screen showcases a video of Choi wearing nail art resembling a computer board tracing the keys of their laptop, the ASMR sound of the clicking keystrokes fills the gallery like a hidden heartbeat embedded within the space’s walls. This short film is just one medium within a larger show dedicated to the artist’s dearly departed laptop. The video opens us up to questions about what happens when we allow ourselves to grieve our connections to our technology. What does it mean for us to critically reflect on our relationships to not only our devices but the unspoken labor and geographies from which they were produced? Suhyun Choi’s Memorial For Laptop demands Western consumers of technology to envision work where healing grief through ritual becomes a unique intervention that aids critical introspection of race, care, spirit, and community.

Choi transforms Recess into a powerful memorial space. At the center of the exhibit is a large transparent bowl filled with water and white, synthetic carnations. Below the bowl sits a high pile circular white rug that the artist encourages people to rest on. Directly behind the bowl sits a large, multilevel wood altar piled high with pink, cream, and mauve carnations. Resting in the middle of the floral arrangement are detached keyboards wrapped upon themselves into cylindrical sculptures, and black and multicolored cables constructed into vertical piles that frame a clear container holding the soul of the dearly departed: Choi’s laptop SSD. Neon pink light radiates from below this altar, bouncing off the bowl and illuminating the rest of the exhibition space. The gallery’s transformation illustrates what it looks like to build a space built on radical care (in both theory and praxis) for disenfranchised communities.

Choi shows us it’s possible to center care and community organizing in the process of creating art. Choi’s exhibition and related programming illuminate the interplay between the digital-technological space and the physical body. This work begins with a land and digital acknowledgment, an invitation to remember the “labor and love of QTBIPOC” globally as well as the extractive forces that underlie the technology we interact with daily in our lives. Care means radically including people who are disproportionately affected by the violence of borders, racism, and silencing. During the opening, Choi read aloud a manifesto they co-created with ChatGPT pledging to “create a culture of care and interdependence between humanity and technology that is decolonized and rooted in respect, fairness, and mutuality.” The manifesto names the harms enacted on humanity under the guise of technological advancement and vows to amplify silenced voices, foster collaboration amongst groups, and be used for the benefit of all. Following this pledge, attendees engage in a few minutes of silence to honor collective grief, particularly after two mass shootings in California within the AAPI community that occurred around the time of the opening. Choi has attention to care as a verb that emerges in a myriad of ways. Within their short film, the text of poetry reflecting on their relationship to their laptop offers prompts and space for attendees to explore difficult emotions around loss and past devices that hold images of family, a graveyard of texts from past partners, and apps that carried us in the late night hours finalizing work/school projects.

Care also emerges within their facilitation of the additional programming sessions. In a panel session titled Community Conversation: Techno-Orientalism and Strategies against Violence, Choi leads us through a dialogue with respected AAPI artists, activists, scholars, and sex workers examining the conditions that produce Anti-Asian hate crimes and how to transform them. During this conversation, attendees were engaged with as much respect as the panelists, the mic was equally passed around to both speakers and audience members as the group reflected on the histories of this violence alongside its relation to technological production. The care in fostering environments in which those present can feel brave to explore complex and painful topics alongside community members ready to offer additional information and support. Safety kits were provided for AAPI women and femmes by Angry Asian Woman Collective, following the panel as panelists exiting the exhibit space offered rides home to anyone who needed one. Additionally, Choi led the group through a meditation highlighting the aliveness of their bodies and gratitude for all that our bodies offer to us. These acts of care become physical, emotional, and spiritual offerings that reify our humanity. Throughout the installation, Choi emphasized letting people pause and take breaks. They understand that “existing is labor” and find it imperative to offer nourishment in the process of work about labor and bodies. Care work is labor that falls mostly on femme and women's bodies. Choi allows us to envision creating and finding new revolutionary ways that utilize everyday tools to keep us not only alive but thriving.

Choi grounds their work on the concept of techno-orientalism, based on the eponymous 2015 collection of essays examining, in part, how Asian people are racialized through technology. In 1902, the American Federation of Labor claimed that Asian workers had physically different bodies than white Europeans and were thus capable of withstanding horrific working conditions, so much so that the Asian body has historically been constructed as machinery, or “expendable technology” (Roh, Huang, Niu, 2015). Additionally, East-Asian femme bodies were subjected to gendered processes diminishing them to objects seen through the lens of both the West and the patriarchy in the East. Techno-orientalism assists in defining and describing our assumptions of Asian workers, who are perceived as machine-like due to the mass production of the digital devices we use every day and global recognition of the East’s technological advancements. Choi’s work demands we wrangle with the futurity of this dehumanization and consider processes humanizing our relationship to technology as an act of extending humanity to East-Asian bodies and especially femmes. Choi reminds us that our intimacy with our objects is real. Their laptop was from their college years, pivotal ages that concretize who we are as emerging adults. Choi’s work forces us to reckon with this level of power and pervasiveness technology has in our lives and to critically contend with the realities of the communities and bodies still subjected to violence due to its demand.

Spirituality both honors and acknowledges our connection to each other, the earth, and higher powers. Spiritual discipline played a major part in the creation of this space and that is evident in the work presented. In preparation, Choi engaged in weekly prayers for a year to anoint and prepare the space. People dropped off items to memorialize such as a deceased partner's old laptop, a washed-up iPad, and a phone that plays music specifically for someone’s birds, all of which were arranged on four white tables dotted with carnations. One would assume that a range of negative emotions would arise because of our deep attachment to these items and the people that held them closest, yet the installation also contains humor. Humor became a part of the container to release these devices as attendees shared funny stories with Choi about their relationship to these items. Humor became a part of facilitating the letting go process, relaxing our hardened bodies to accept what’s difficult for us.

Throughout the course of the Session, the public was invited to donate their broken personal devices. After the exhibition, the donated electronics were recycled responsibly.

Memorial for Laptop is more than an exhibit. It is an intervention demanding that we bring deeper awareness and humanity in our relationships with technology to honor not only our devices but East Asian people who have felt the violent brunt of its global advancement. Choi shows us that it is possible to care for the bodies that produced the technology we use by caring for ourselves and for the technology itself. In honoring the life of a laptop, creating sacred space and sacred pause to memorialize the time together journeying through this ever-changing world, we are pointed towards more radical futures. They remind us that care shows up as nourishment and affirmation for workers. Overall, Choi’s Recess Session demonstrates how we must deeply reflect on and acknowledge how all the technology that surrounds us does not appear out of thin air but comes from the blood, sweat, and tears of the people who created it.



edited prayer from annual Resurrection of Care ceremony from the Golden Dome School - taken from handout during Choi’s special programming

About the Writer

Chinyere Okafor


Screenshot 2024-05-09 at 12.30.15 PM.png
Screenshot 2024-05-09 at 12.30.15 PM.png

Peace My name is chinyere

I am a Black queer reiki practitioner, writer, and somatic explorer. Raised in the Deep South and currently based on Lenape territory (a.k.a Brooklyn), I am now a Ph.D. candidate in Critical Social Psychology at The Graduate Center, CUNY. My research seeks to understand how marginalized genders of color heal and resist, as well as examine where we hold stories of institutional violations in our physical and energetic bodies.

I am a Reiki Level II practitioner trained under my Reiki godmother, Selome Araya. My training is of the Usui Reiki tradition, trauma-informed, and rooted in a decolonial Black feminist approach. I have offered Reiki to communities of color in New York for the past four years. I believe that everyone possesses the power to heal oneself and as a Reiki practitioner, I am here to provide energy work, hold space, and assist you on your journey back to self. It is an honor to be a witness and of service to your healing.



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