A message from %%!account_organization%%.

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it. 
Arundhati Roy, Financial Times, April 3rd, 2020

Arundhati Roy’s prescient quote circulated widely in the early and anxious days of the pandemic. These words quake with foresight. After a summer of demonstrations that powerfully brought racial justice to the forefront of conversations at the dinner table, in boardrooms, and on our newsfeeds, the rupture caused by the pandemic has opened up a portal into another world.

The portal is not just a liminal space of waiting, but stretched out over time, it has grown into a place of its own. March 11th will mark the one year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring coronavirus a pandemic. March 13th was the last day before the Miller ICA’s operations became remote. This year in the portal has been both destructive and generative.

This issue of Remote Control explores how portals can be creative spaces and looks closer at artists from the 2019 exhibition, This Skin of Ours, whose work connects to ideas about portals and thresholds. It also includes written and recorded interviews with artists, details for upcoming events, a guide to resources, and curated reading lists.

This is also the Miller ICA’s first issue of Remote Control after launching a newly designed website that better supports virtual formats for connecting with content. We invite you to visit us online until we can all visit each other in person.

Wishing you health and safety,

Elizabeth Chodos
Miller ICA Director

Image Credit: Victoria Fu & Matt Rich Comet, Big X, Blue Pendant, installation in This Skin of Ours curated by Liz Park at Miller ICA, 2019. Photo by Tom Little.

Q+A with Victoria Fu & Matt Rich
by Liz Park

An archway and a silhouette, perfect circles and overlapping frames—these are some visual motifs that characterize the individual and collaborative work of media artist Victoria Fu and painter Matt Rich. Through distinct shapes and contrast of colors, they create visual portals that indicate depth and other planes of existence. Their portals invite as much a study of the surface as what lies beneath. The following questions for the pair explore the portal as a concept, a political manifestation, and an artistic approach.
Liz Park: A portal is a non-place—neither here, nor there—that promises a world beyond and within. How do you inhabit this non-place?
Victoria Fu and Matt Rich: In rips photographed and flattened over grids in space. With gradients, splatters and seeping beet stains; in a constellation of drips and drabs; with straps and trains. By tying and re-tying to a foot and a waist or to your buddy. Flattened on a body; kissing a wall. Then peeled off, draped, crumpled, creased, folded and stuffed in an armpit/in a mouth/in a crotch! Touched by another hand to be flattened again. In holes for our heads, our organs; for peeking and for becoming. Moving between object and skin, surface and skirts, as wrapping paper for gifts and as giant bibs for keeping clean.
Victoria Fu & Matt Rich, Comet, 2018
LP: A portal is an opening. It validates an enclosure, whether it is of a neighborhood, or a nation-state. What thresholds do you cross or maintain in your individual and collaborative work?

VF + MR: The portals between us are multiple and obvious, yet in odd places. We wave limbs at each other's doors, windows, skylights, pipes, chimneys. We reach in and pluck things from each other's fridges; a solitary right hand tidies the other's floor with a brush. We don't stay long, and it's only ever just a part. We mostly see each other though the frames from nearby, but sometimes we are just out of sight.
Victoria Fu & Matt Rich, This Skin of Ours at Miller ICA, CMU, 2019
We conjoin emotions, limbs, antagonisms, attention spans and skills. Our togetherness weaves in and out like iffy radio signals, taking turns and passing the baton, the buck. In order to make this work, we stay different by staying ourselves. It gets muddled if we step into each other, like a horse with five legs. The map is clear. He cuts this, she touches that. Here's what I did. Do you like it? Here, do your thing.

LP: A portal is an aperture. What permissions are granted and limitations imposed when looking through an aperture?

VM + MR:
The aperture is a frame, on its way to becoming a representation.
Falling through the lens, the first cut rectangles come into being.
Their fast fittings and arrangements mark time and our love.
We are allowed to be gratuitous, decadent, indulgent.
The aperture has a costume change and emerges as a screen for hiding and revealing.
Most of its parts stay hidden, but a few stand out and emerge from the glut.
Later, it comes together to assume the form of a body, in bolts and sheets, too heavy to carry, cemented in the tooth of canvas.
We are both limited and freed by the body.
We fracture its oneness: folding, tucking, layering, piling, suturing.
The aperture has become a thing, a peacock, a ghost.
A tunnel with a thousand speed bumps, a toothpaste tube stuffed with active ingredients.
A whole circumnavigated by a plump, non-fraying edge.
Mutate again.
This time, many apertures approach. A multiplicity of hands, then bodies.
They perceive, blink shutters.
They fold, cut and paste to themselves; look from inside, from above.
They squinch once more through a lens and thin to images again.


Register for these upcoming events.
Salon Conversation with Cathy Park Hong

Wed. March 24, 7:30pm
This conversation between facilitator Dana Bishop-Root and writer Cathy Park Hong, will continue the Miller ICA salon series of conversations with individuals who imagine and actualize possibility on the other side of the pandemic portal.
Cathy Park Hong’s book of creative nonfiction, Minor Feelings, was published in Spring 2020 by One World/Random House (US) and Profile Books (UK). Minor Feelings is a ruthlessly honest, emotionally charged, and utterly original exploration of Asian American consciousness and the struggle to be human. The book has garnered praise from literary legends such as Claudia Rankine who said, “Cathy Park Hong’s brilliant, penetrating and unforgettable Minor Feelings is what was missing on our shelf of classics....To read this book is to become more human.”

Cathy Park Hong is also the author of poetry collections Engine Empire, published in 2012 by W.W. Norton, Dance Dance Revolution, chosen by Adrienne Rich for the

Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Translating Mo'um. Hong is the recipient of the Windham-Campbell Prize, the Guggenheim Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Her prose and poetry have been published in the New York Times, New Republic, the Guardian, Paris Review, Poetry, and elsewhere. She is the poetry editor of the New Republic and is a full professor at Rutgers-Newark University.

Dana Bishop-Root lives in gratitude, is guided by relationships, listening deep and expansive possibilities with an ever present commitment to justice. She is the Director of Education and Public Programs at the Carnegie Museum of Art, a founding member of General Sisters, Transformazium and a huge advocate for the Braddock Carnegie Library Association.


This Skin of Ours
Virtual Tour:

Thur. March 4, 12:30pm

Join us for a virtual tour with Lydia Rosenberg of our 2019 exhibition, This Skin of Ours, curated by Liz Park, Curator of Exhibitions at UB Art Galleries in Buffalo, New York. The exhibition brought together nine artists whose works complicate and expand various surfaces, materials and ideas related to skin. This tour will look at each individual artist and the works they presented as well as reflecting on the larger concepts and connections surrounding the curatorial concept.
"The skin is also a site of a formal investigation. It is a medium—an elastic and responsive layer—through which the artists grouped here explore pain and hurt, redemptive possibilities of healing, and the meeting of private and public lives."
– Liz Park, curator of
This Skin of Ours


This section revisits content from the archive.

RWD: Revisit - Episode 4
Wilmer Wilson IV


This episode focuses on a piece entitled TRICK by Wilmer Wilson IV, which was included in the 2019 exhibition This Skin of Ours curated by Liz Park. Explore the layered and complex forms employed by Wilson’s large-scale work that uses found imagery and objects to invite reflection on the meaning of materials and the difficulty of representation.

RWD: Revisit - Ida Mary Lewis

A special RWD:Revisit featuring
CMU alum, librarian and activist,
Ida Mary Lewis.

Listen to a presentation of her paper comparing two American paintings, Charles Calvert and his Slave by John Hesselius (1761) and Horace Pippin’s Holy Mountain III (1945) recorded at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Feb 3, 1969.

Byron Kim and Carl Phillips in Conversation with Liz Park

Byron Kim & Carl Phillips extend a conversation that began in 2017 when the Pulitzer Arts Foundation brought the pair together to discuss Phillips’s poems and Kim’s paintings.

Kim’s recent series of bruise paintings featured in This Skin of Ours at the Miller ICA, were inspired by Phillips’s poem Alba: Innocence.​


This section features special commissions from artists.
Subject to change without notice By Chloë Bass

Subject to change without notice is a photography and color-mapping project originally produced as the seventh chapter of Chloë Bass’ project The Book of Everyday Instruction. Each chapter of The Book of Everyday Instruction focuses on a different element of one-on-one intimacy, asking a central inquiry question. Chapter Seven’s focus is the partnership between a person and their city, asking the question,
“How do we recognize an ongoing coupling in spite of change?” The chapter’s title is taken from a line of text that appears on all historic and contemporary public transportation maps in New Orleans: subject to change without notice. This sentence also serves as a good description of urban life in the time of rampant gentrification: for the resident, local change often occurs without warning, request, or consideration—something that happens to, rather than with, a neighborhood.

This version of the project features a photograph of Pittsburgh taken at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers: two rivers becoming one, the Ohio. In this context, the sentence Subject to change without notice offers commentary on climate change in addition to shifts in urban life. The colors overlaid on the photo were produced using Bass’ app City Palette: a photo and design app interpreting locations through color collections. The photograph was taken by Margaret Cox in December 2020.

To collect colors for your own location, or to access colors uploaded by people near you, download City Palette (iOS and Android) via the QR code, or visit paletteapp.city


This section highlights podcasts and videos from relevant exhibitions.


Recommended Resources
A curated selection of relevant resources. This issue’s guide section focuses on events for Black History Month
Reclaiming Cultural Stewardship and Decolonizing the Archives with Bekezela Mguni — Feb 25, 7pm: CMU University Library Speaker Series. Find out how archivists play a critical role in the preservation of our history, how they interpret the current moment, and what evidence is left behind to shape our future. 

Virtual Book Club: We’re Better Than This by Elijah Cummings  — Mon, Feb 22, 2 pm Black History Month at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh​Join a lively discussion with fellow book lovers via Zoom to discuss We’re Better Than This by Elijah Cummings. Cummings (1951–2019), the late Maryland Democratic congressman, recaps his struggle to overcome racism in politics and a contentious relationship with President Trump in this forceful valedictory.

Roots Run Deep: A Survey of Contemporary African American Hair Culture curated by Tara Fay — Now through March 6 features an exhibition of works by 16 Black artists, stylists, and cultural producers. Roots Run Deep looks at the ways in which Black hairstyles are tied to tradition and examines the historic influence of the past on modern styling practices today. Through photography, sculpture, and mixed media works, artists demonstrate how hair is used as a medium to articulate our creativity across the diaspora.


Annotated Bibliographies - Staff Picks​
For this issue, the staff have annotated their picks for readings that connect to the idea of portals.
Elizabeth Chodos
Miller ICA Director

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, Cathy Park Hong. New York : One World, 2020
Margaret Cox
Assistant Director

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi Grove Press 2018 (US)
Lydia Rosenberg
Visitor Service Coordinator

Age of Sand by Ido (Lisa) Radon (www.idoradon.com), 2019, Panel, Los Angeles
Alex Young
Exhibition Technician

Aliens in America: Conspiracy Cultures from Outerspace to Cyberspace by Jodi Dean, Cornell University Press, 1998.