Daniel Chew

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Artist Statement

Since 2007, I have been working alone and collaboratively with Micaela Durand as BFFA3AE. All the work I create strives to illustrate the act of self-determination, which I envision as a tool to scramble and distort codes of normality. In this process I see a radical political potential to not only question the world we live in, but also propose and imagine a model for a future community. Because technology increasingly mediates our lives and has played many roles in both furthering and hindering such a project (often at the same time), it occupies a central role in many of my works.

The early days of Web 2.0, which heralded a spewing forth of user-generated content, offered a glimpse into how such an imagined world might function. On YouTube, a generation of teenagers in their bedrooms were creating a language that spoke beyond comprehension. Words and letters appeared alongside a visual language that didn’t play by any rules and this new syntax was offered a potentially wide reaching platform for distribution. In BFFA3AE’s “uh, duh, yeah” (Video Embed 2, Images #16/17) splices of onomatopoetic words from user generated karaoke videos are edited together to create a video and performance that gives life to such an imagined language.

As technology changed and became centralized around a few hubs, a curious distortion of the material and immaterial took place. Our online profiles became an extension of our physical self, which in turn created a feedback loop wherein our physicality sometimes bent to accommodate our online persona. The increasing dominance of images and our interactions with them became a model within which we learned to relate, providing either a template to be followed or rejected. Teens in their effortless incorporation of such a technology became a focus of the film “Live [EXPLICIT]” by BFFA3AE (Video Embed 1, Images #1/2) in order to illustrate the complicated manner in which these situations play out.

As race and gender is perceived through the interpretation of images (i.e. you race and gender a person through purely visual cues), a reentrenchment of values and hierarchies mirroring the physical world happens online in spite of the utopian idea of technology. My work as drag persona, Burmamyanmar in collaboration with KAYA (Images #14/15), play with this idea within the realm of gender, where every stage in the creation of the performance, from costume to movement to voice, is inspired by and in service to an image. Images of Asian male sexuality are explored in my work with K-pop stars and their appearance on bootleg merchandise. Images #7/8 came out of my interaction with the website TaoBao (a Chinese eBay) and were created in the process of purchasing the garments shown. The distorted, grainy, and unlit quality of the image I read as proffering a bootleg sexuality and in turn I learned to honor the bootleg and question representation as it has been offered to us online and also in turn as politics. As opposed to the slick and unblemished image, the bootleg offers an unstable representation, which allows room for self-determination to come to the fore.



b. 1988, San Jose, CA

Lives and works in New York, NY



BFA in Film and Television, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, New York, NY



Looking Back: The 9th White Columns Annual, White Columns, New York, NY

You Won’t Believe (…), Division Gallery, Montreal, Canada

Works on Paper, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York, NY

20 Jahre Halle für Kunst, Halle für Kunst, Lüneburg, Germany


Tasterʼs Choice, MoMA PS1, New York, NY

REALITY FX, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, New York, NY

*RIGHT ON!*, Duve Berlin, Berlin, Germany

DTR (Micaela Durand and Daniel Chew) curated by Brian Droitcour, 47 Canal, New York, NY


Neoteny, 247365, Brooklyn, NY

AD BOOK: Express Visual Edition, Gloria Maria Gallery, Milan, Italy

TL;DR, LʼAtelier Kunst, Berlin, Germany


Big Reality, 319 Scholes, New York, NY

iSaw Him First, Back Yard Projects, New York, NY

CKTV, 9th Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai, China

AD BOOK Networking Event, Goethe Institut New York, New York, NY


This and that thought., commissioned by Turbulence.org, Internet

Like, Vogt Gallery, New York, NY

Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Back Yard Projects, New York, NY

the time now is, klausgallery.net, New York, NY


Moving Shapes and Colors curated by Brian Droitcour, 179 Canal, New York, NY

postTV LIVE, Cabinet Magazine Space, Brooklyn, NY

Sculpture Storage, La Mama Galleria, New York, NY

Vacation, 179 Canal Online Exhibition Platform (www.179canal.com), Internet


TXTual Healing, Chelsea Art Museum, New York, NY

IRL, Capricious Space, Brooklyn, NY


2014-2015 Rhizome Commission as BFFA3AE


Critics Pick: DTR, Artforum.com, July 2014

Visual Identity: Meet BFFA3AE, the Duo Exploring the Art of Communication in the YouTube Age, Fader, July 2014

MoMA PS1 Spring Open House, ArtTribune, April 2014

AD BOOK: An Interview with BFFA3AE, Rhizome, March 2013

BFFA3AE: 3 BFFS Are Making Some Rly Rad Meta Net Art, The Creators Project, March 2013


The Politics of Friendship, Studiolo, 2013

AD BOOK, Badlands Unlimited, 2013

How to Download a Boyfriend, Badlands Unlimited, 2012