Image credit: Mimi Bai & Sam B. Jones

On View Mimi Bai: HIDE AND SEE

Mimi Bai: HIDE AND SEE | Curated by Amanda Contrada

On view

December 16, 2022—February 18, 2023● Wednesday—Saturday | 1–6pm
BCA Mills Gallery, 551 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02116


Masks are required.

Mimi Bai: HIDE AND SEE is the sixth exhibition in the 1:1 Exhibition Series presented in the Mills Gallery at Boston Center for the Arts. Each exhibition in this series presents a collaborative project between one curator and one artist, and either introduces a new artist or highlights a new aspect of a more experienced artist.

In Mimi Bai: HIDE AND SEE, Bai contemplates camouflage as a metaphor for assimilation, a labor-intensive process, and a methodology for survival and communication that selectively conceals and reveals. 

Camouflage involves making oneself invisible or hyper-visible, sometimes simultaneously. Bai draws parallels between this process and her experience of assimilation as an immigrant from China. She contextualizes this personal history within a historical and political framework that traces how capitalism and settler colonialism demand self-effacement in exchange for opportunity and a sense of safety. 

Bai marks the unrecognized labor of assimilation using clay, ink, and string, as well as the encumbered movements of her body captured on camera. These repetitive and taxing actions make physical the often invisible and immaterial exertions required to “blend in” to one’s environment. 

By abstracting fragments of her personal and familial history into patterns and forms, Bai has developed her own iconography that she employs throughout the works in the exhibition. A prominent example is the ghost, which emerged from a costume Bai wore as a child during her first Halloween in the US, then evolved through her research into ghillie suits — garments worn by snipers and hunters to conceal their bodies from an enemy or target. 

The ghosts in the exhibition serve as avatars for the artist as she reflects on the shifting and conditional state of the alien and the marginalized. Across drawing, sculpture, and film, Bai re-imagines and enacts alternative perspectives on survival, adaptation, improvisation, and creative possibility.

Public Programs

Public Reception & Curatorial Walkthrough

Friday, December 16, 2022 | 6–9pm

During the public reception for Mimi Bai: HIDE AND SEE, visitors will also be able to visit Project Room No. 3: Nathan Heilman the third of the new Mills Gallery Project Room Exhibition Series.

We hope you’ll take the opportunity to see new work from our Studio Residency Artists as well, the BCA Artist Studios Building will be open from 5:30–8pm. Explore the four floors next door and visit some BCA studio residents in their studios. Please RSVP.


Film Screening with Live Score

Saturday February 4, 2023, 4pm | BCA Plaza Theatre

HIDE AND SEE is an experimental narrative film collaboration between Sam B. Jones and Mimi Bai that activates Bai’s clay and textile sculptures, transforming them into shrouds for two ghostly figures. The specters employ bushcraft and camouflage techniques as they pursue and evade one another across time and space, while the film shifts between black and white and color — alternately concealing and revealing the ghosts within their environment. For this special screening, the film’s composer Zain Alam (Humeysha) will perform a blended live and recorded score.


Watch the Trailer

Hide and See – Trailer

Artists in Conversation:

Mimi Bai with Gohar Dashti & Ngoc-Tran Vu

Saturday, January 28, 2023, 2pm | Pao Arts Center

Join NYC-based artist Mimi Bai for an intercity conversation with Boston-based artists Gohar Dashti and Ngoc-Tran Vu at Pao Arts Center. Drawing from different regions of the diaspora, each artist utilizes varying conceptual approaches to explore themes of migration, home, and community through their work. Their overlapping and contrasting practices in video, photography, mixed media and public art raise anthropological and sociological questions around assimilation in new geographies.

After the conversation, join artist Mimi Bai at the Mills Gallery for an artist walkthrough of her solo exhibition, HIDE AND SEE. Artist gallery hours start at 4 pm that Saturday.

Agenda for the day
2 PM | Pao Arts Center, Chinatown | Community Conversation: Mimi Bai in dialogue with artists Gohar Dashti and Ngoc-Tran Vu
4 PM | Mills Gallery at Boston Center for the Arts, South End | Gallery Walkthrough with Mimi Bai