Recent work by Berlin/Seoul-based artist Haegue Yang, including photographs, works on paper, video, slide projection, sculpture, and installation, will be showcased in her first U.S. solo museum exhibitionHaegue Yang: Integrity of the Insiderpresented by the Walker Art Center
September 24 (59 pm)February 28. Increasingly receiving wider recognition, Yangs work was included in the 55th Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (2008), and the 2008 Turin Triennale. In addition, she is the first woman artist to represent the Republic of Korea at this years 53rd Venice Biennale.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Yang will be in residence at the Walker in September and October to act as both apprentice and leader in a series of seminars and workshops that address the diverse subjects that have informed her work. In February 2010, multidisciplinary public programs resulting from the shared learning experience will coincide with the close of the exhibition.
Poetry, politics, and human emotion inform Haegue Yangs practiceand its relationship to the everyday. Over the past few years, working with nontraditional materials such as customized venetian blinds and electrical devices, she has created a series of carefully orchestrated installations that operate as microcosms of sensory experiences and are the results of her ongoing engagement with certain historical figures of interest. Yearning Melancholy Red (2008), the centerpiece of her Walker exhibition, arose from the artists exploration of the life of Marguerite Duras, the late French writer and filmmaker. The exhibition, which surveys the artists practice from the past few years, also includes smaller-scale pieces that illuminate the larger installation.
Haegue Yangs work was first shown at the Walker as part of the 2007 exhibition Brave New Worlds, a global group show featuring 24 artists from 17 countries. Her large-scale mixed-media installation Series of Vulnerable ArrangementsBlind Room (2006/2007), which premiered at the 2006 São Paulo Biennale before its presentation at the Walker, represented a significant turning point in her practice. Part of the Walkers collection, Blind Room is a meticulously choreographed series of perceptual experiences.
In London, Frankfurt, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Bilbao, and other cities, Yang has produced and presented a dizzying sequence of increasingly complex installations. Its as if she wishes to make the viewers perceptual experienceinitially fleeting, almost shyincreasingly more involved and participatory. In Yearning Melancholy Red (2008), co-produced by REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater), Los Angeles, and the Walker and premiered at REDCAT in June 2008, custom-made white and faux wood blinds radiate from central structures like fans or flowers. The drama is heightened by roving theater lights throughout the space whose movements are connected, via a control board, to a drum set that visitors are invited to play.
Abstraction is the language I choose to give true value to the presence of narrative inside of me as well as the narratives I have encountered and realized as relatives, which exist outside of me, says Yang. I think what fundamentally lies beneath these narratives can be shared without being told as a story. For me, abstraction is not anti-narrative, it is not a language that attempts to negate narration but rather allows a narrative to be achieved without constituting its own limits. The form of language I choose to experiment with is abstract even if the motivation is always concrete.
Also on view at the Walker will be several works exploring what the artist calls folding, unfolding, non-folding, an important concept, which refers to the physical act of making and unmaking geometry, as in origami, while also intimating potentially mutable states of forms, ideas, and emotions. These include Gymnastics of the Foldables (2006), a humorous series of photographs of a clothes-drying rack doing a calisthenic exercise; and Non-Foldings (2007), stenciled silhouettes of (sometimes flattened) origami polyhedrons on large pieces of paper.
The exhibition will also feature Dehors (2006)the French word for outsidea slide projection of fanciful real-estate advertisements collected from Korean newspapers. With their seductive text blocked out, sequential images of architectural renderings conjure a dream of a futuristic, spectacular, and ultimately unattainable life. This subtle critique of the gap between representation and the viewers (in)capacity for identification are present in a different way in another work, Quasi MBin the middle of its story (2006/2007). A group of photographs, typed texts, and smudged handwriting, the work is Yangs imaginary, one-way conversation with the late Belgian poet, filmmaker, and conceptual artist Marcel Broodthaers (19241976). It is also a kind of confession in which Yang reveals both her admiration for this influential artistic predecessor and the ultimately unbridgeable distance she senses between the revered Western artist and herself, a stranger in a foreign land.
Born in 1971 in Seoul, Korea, Haegue Yang received degrees from the Seoul National University and the Städelschule in Frankfurt-am-Main. Recent solo exhibitions have been presented at Sala Rekalde, Bilbao; REDCAT, Los Angeles; and Portikus, Frankfurt.