When You Get The Chance, Please Send Me The Right Brick
Abigail Han’s contribution to “Words on Paper” comes in the form of recorded dispatches from Singapore and an archival ink jet print and drawing called “When You Get The Chance, Please Send Me The Right Brick” (ed. of 3, 2016). This piece provides levity: detailed instructions on how to assemble and bake a brick layer cake, and is a window into a transfer of heritage through recipes and the act of cooking. Han’s inquiries into public and private space have identified intergenerational family tensions, cultural rites, and bureaucracy as generative material with expressive potential. Her recorded missives presented at the reading events offered meditations on domestic life. One of the most moving questions Han asks addresses the physicality of her grandmother, who has been absorbed in the keeping and cleaning of her home for decades: Can we measure the value of your domestic work if we measure the degree to which your back has curved? The intimacy we are afforded by her practice has radical implications to the extent that witness can be a transformative act. After living and studying in the United States and then moving to Singapore, I hope the liminal-quality of Han’s residential status continues to inform the subjects she explores with stark compassion and grace.
– Sara Ellen Fowler