Anida Yoeu Ali’s “Buddhist Bug” comes to life

UW Bothell Senior Artist-in-Residence Anida Yoeu Ali donned her orange worm-like costume at a recent Seattle Asian Art Museum performance.

A woman wearing a giant orange tube smiles at an observing man.

On March 23, Anida Yoeu Ali, one of UW Bothell’s senior artists-in-residence, donned her 100-meter-long Buddhist Bug costume for a special three-hour performance at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Kneeling in the orange costume so she resembled a worm exploring its environment, Ali greeted more than a thousand visitors individually as they packed in to her exhibition, “Hybrid Skin, Mythical Presence.” Children, families and lone adults lined up to engage with the artist.

Her costume mirrored the orange Buddhist robes, or Kāṣāya, worn by the Cambodian monks who blessed visitors at the start of the midday performance while also referencing the hijab worn by Cham Muslims. Museum visitors and friends of the artist also dressed in orange at the request of Ali, filling the gallery with vibrant hues.

Throughout the performance, Ali silently interacted with visitors through a range of facial expressions and by nuzzling and bowing, and occasionally liberating them of their hats and scarves with her teeth. Visitors spoke of being moved to tears by the bug and the artist’s strength of presence.

Read our full feature on Ali from the March 2024 issue.