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Research and Academic Explore

“The Color of Emergency”: Joan Kee on Chao-chen Yang’s Apprehension

Chao-Chen Yang (b. China, d. Seattle, Washington, 1945–1969)Apprehensionc. 1942. Photograph, 16 x 12 1/2 inchesCollection of Edgar Yang

Chao-Chen Yang’s color photograph Apprehension (c. 1942) captures the feeling of surveillance, silencing, and precarity as experienced by people of color, and particularly those of Asian descent, in the United States.


Recorded on March 28, 2021.

Joan Kee is professor of history of art at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Her research focuses on modern and contemporary art from multiregional and cross-disciplinary perspectives. The author of Models of Integrity: Art and Law in Post-Sixties America (2019) and Contemporary Korean Art: Tansaekhwa and the Urgency of Method (2013), Kee is also co-editor of To Scale. In addition she is a contributing editor at Artforum and on the advisory boards of Art History, Oxford Art Journal, and Art Margins. She was a fellow at the Clark in fall 2020 and in spring 2021 served as the Clark Professor in the Williams Graduate Program in the History of Art.