Amy Yao
Bay of Smokes
January 23 - March 19, 2016
Los Angeles




VSF is pleased to present Amy Yao’s first solo show at Various Small Fires. Titled Bay of Smokes, the exhibition plays with different forms of contamination. It is a continuation of Yao’s interest in the aesthetics of industrial and domestic spaces from the perspective of access, gender, identity, and the codification of space through form, color, and language.
A suspicion is demanded from the kind of ill advised self-production, unavoidably occurring in biological bodies at sites of material transformation. The resulting contamination is, and has been, the constant – the knowledge of it through data representations is the revelation – the thing perceived as change.


The ability to relocate natural materials inexpensively and efficiently relies on anatamo-politics – the ability to integrate bodies into efficient system. Concurrently this seemingly never ending flow of natural resources has radically transformed how bodies move. Airports and logistics operations require streamlined efficiency without room for disruption. Human bodies and objects both become material to be scanned and identified for the benefit of our “security.” New tools are required for the processing of bodies and materials. With all our devices, what escapes or resists detection and identification?


Yes, This is Rice! But it is made of plastic and it’s spreading across Asia. A media induced outsourcing of fear, displacing equally riveting circumstances of domestic contamination onto foreign bodies abroad. Yet the victims in both cases remain minorities and people of color. Lead contamination near Exide Plant may be worse than previously thought, Boyle Heights, CA, Commerce, CA. Barely a newswire blip, a planned scenario of environmental injustice. Pollution is segregated too, and its obfuscation is a product of racism sublimated, reappearing as nationalism and xenophobia. It is easier to overlook what happens in a dysfunctional home.


Driving from A to B and forgetting most of the journey due to its familiarity – isn’t this condition the most efficient form of biopower? Its mental absentness from the moment at hand? Floating back to the consumeristic induction producing this activity (and its subsequent collective dreaming) … to a landscape where what we don’t want to remember coalesces with our comfort zone.




Amy Yao (b. 1977) has had solo exhibitions at venues including Indipendeza, Rome; Paradise Garage, Venice, CA; 47 Canal, New York; Jack Hanley Gallery, New York; Green Gallery, Milwaukee; New Jerseyy, Basel, Switzerland; Mathew Gallery, Berlin, Germany. Her work has also been shown in group exhibitions at such institutions as MoMA/ P.S. 1, New York; Air de Paris, Paris; White Flag Projects, Saint Louis; Space Studios, London; Swiss Institute, New York; White Columns, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tuscon; Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York; Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Portland, OR; Night Gallery, Los Angeles; Andrew Kreps, New York. She co-curated the group exhibition Artificial Complexion at Various Small Fires (2014).


Special thank you to David Donahue, Lightstage, Chris “Chiz” Ballreich, Lhaga “Wifey / Asian Eyez” Koondhor, Pentti Monkkonen, Sean Raspet, Rob Kulisek, Felisa Funes / Of The Flowers, Lisa Jo, Carissa Rodriguez, Margaret Lee, Amy Lien, Anicka Yi, Becca Albee, Egija Inzule, Eva Svennung, and everyone at VSF.


Shang, Danielle. “Amy Yao : Bay of Smokes.” LEAP April 2016 | PDF |

Kron, Cat, “Various Small Fires Amy Yao,” Artforum, April, 2016 | PDF |

Shaw, Michael, “Various Small Fires – Amy Yao,” Artillery, March 2nd, 2016. | | PDF |

Eler, Alicia, “Exhibit | Amy Yao : Bay Of Smokes,” Crave, March 2nd, 2016. | | PDF |

“Amy Yao at Various Small Fires,” Contemporary Art Daily, February 23rd, 2016. | |

“Amy Yao at Various Small Fires,” Contemporary Art Writing Daily, February 23rd, 2016. | |

Griffin, Jonathan, “Amy Yao,” Frieze Magazine, February 13th, 2016. | | PDF |

Mizota, Sharon, “Amy Yao’s art of contamination: Not everything is as perfect as it seems,” LA Times, February 11th, 2016. | | PDF |

Horst, Aaron, “Amy Yao at Various Small Fires,” CARLA, February 3rd, 2016. | | PDF |