Luke Luokun Cheng

Luke Luokun Cheng

Do you believe in love between comrades,2018, photograph, 20 x 30 cm

Close friends will see you with colored glasses,2018, photograph, 20 x 30 cm

TheCube Project Space

Hengfu banners are traditionally hung in public spaces in China to communicate messages of inspiration or motivation. Although the Mandarin word “hengfu” translates to “horizontal scroll,” there is more to these banners than just their form. Hengfu are often employed in public space as a form of state propaganda, but long-scroll messages were also extremely influential modes of publicly communicating descent during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. It is the powerful occupation of dissent and public space that Luke Luokon Cheng cleverly leans into with these works.

Do you believe in love between comrades and Close friends will see you with colored glasses are two phrases—or perhaps warnings, questions, statements—taken from queer dating sites for Chinese men seeking men. Here, Cheng appropriates the formal qualities of the hengfu—the vibrant red color, scale, and horizontal orientation—while also subverting the implied discretion that may be associated with publicly stating queerness and desire in Chinese culture.

The usage of Mandarin characters on the banners renders these works illegible to many in the United States. Amidst this global pandemic, and the fear mongering that the 45th President of the United States aggressively encouraged toward China, positing these illegible statements in public space asks us to question other types of fear and bias that we have for bodies and publics. 

— Curator|Allison M. Glenn


Luke Luokun Cheng

(b.1991, Jiangxi, China, based in Falls Church, United States) An artist and digital designer working in diverse media including installation, imagery, and performance. Through his perspective as a queer Chinese immigrant in the US, he magnifies private poignancies to tease apart the boundaries of intimacy and alienation within global power structures. He draws from his experience designing social software to shape his pieces as sites of interactive possibility, while his background in large format film portraiture informs a quiet, deliberate approach. He has exhibited at Assembly Room in NYC and was a member of NEW INC. He holds a BSE from Princeton University.

Curator : Allison M. Glenn

Allison M. Glenn is Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, where she shapes how outdoor sculpture activates and engages the museum’s 120-acre campus. She was a member of the curatorial team for State of the Art 2020, a quinquennial exhibition that opened simultaneously at the Momentary and Crystal Bridges; and spearheaded the adaptation of Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal… (2020) at Crystal Bridges, organized by the Portland Art Museum. Prior to this, Glenn was Manager of Publications and Curatorial Associate for Prospect New Orleans’ international art triennial Prospect.4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp. Glenn’s writing has been featured in exhibition publications produced by The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Kemper Museum of Art, Prospect New Orleans, DePaul Art Museum, Rebuild Foundation, the California African American Museum, University at Buffalo Art Galleries, and The Studio Museum in Harlem. She has contributed to Hyperallergic, ART21 Magazine, ART PAPERS, Pelican Bomb’s Art Review, and Newcity, among others.

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