On Witnessing the Illegible: a response by Aurora Tabar

On Illegibility by Yun Ingrid Lee

Presented as part of the Eclipsing Festival, February 3, 2019 at Links Hall (*)

Images by Katarzyna Perlak


Your neutral masked face is unknown

You are literally unrecognizable, mistaken for someone else

Your features are ambiguous

I wonder if you prefer to be identified as

East Asian



I wonder how you prefer to identify


You perform a soft hand dance

Gestures of confidence, knowledge, insistence

With wrists circling and fingers splayed

I believe

I am convinced

I question my complicity

My privilege lies in thinking I have nothing to hide


Your body in the flesh and your digital projection

Pulsing in and out of sync

The computer will determine whether you pass

Whether you are valuable enough to be seen

and protected


And yet you are the one in control, manipulating the situation


Like sardines appearing to disappear

at will

And can you see me?

Sitting in the dark audience


And do you think:




I too can silver


Your face shifts and is mutilated

You warp your own visage

You pull, push, and twist your flesh



Are you a victim or a perpetrator?


I wonder about facial recognition for babies

Can their sex, age, and ethnicity be identified

Even though they are too young to consent

have object permanence

or eat solid foods?


Your face is finally revealed

I audibly exhale

This is you


You are

East Asian



or at least that’s how you appear.


Aurora Tabar is a Chicago-based performing artist and occupational therapist. Her professional and creative practices examine the process of healing and the potential for transformation. Aurora’s current project, The Existential Coat Check, is a roving pop up booth that invites participants to shed their ‘psychic’ baggage through writing and drawing activities. She has presented live performance locally at Links Hall, High Concept Laboratories, The Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago Cultural Center, and Outer Space Studios. Alongside Carole McCurdy, she is co-curatoring Power Ouch!, a festival of body-based performance taking place at Links Hall February 14-17, 2019. Aurora works in special education, helping young people with disabilities learn and build functional skills. She lives on the west side of Chicago with her partner and their two cats.

(*) PRJ is partnering with Links Hall to celebrate their 40th anniversary by providing a platform for artist-to-artist responses to the work that is presented as part of the Pay-the-40th-Forward season. Thank you, Links Hall, for all that you do for the dance and performance communities in Chicago. Congratulations on 40 years!