Mire Lee | “Black Sun” @ New Museum, New York
Antenna Space is pleased to announce that the first solo exhibition of artist Mire Lee in the United States, Black Sun, is on view at The New Museum, New York, from June 29th to September 17th, 2023.
Over the past several years, Mire Lee has developed a personal language of sculpture that speaks to the heart of some of today’s most urgent questions. Her kinetic sculptures and installations mimic technological and biological systems to address the fears and anxieties that accompany a constantly evolving world. Although her work falls within a lineage of artists addressing the terrifying potential of machines, Lee’s practice is uniquely calibrated to a contemporary experience of technologically altered and infected bodies. With unique inventiveness and skill, the artist evokes profound emotions and uncanny states of being.
The exhibition installed in the New Museum’s Fourth Floor Gallery. This major installation is the most ambitious the artist has produced to date. The multi-faceted installations populated by kinetic sculptures made from organic and synthetic materials, which collide, fuse, and self-destruct. Typically composed of low-tech motors, steel rods, and PVC hoses filled with grease, glycerin, silicone, oil, or clay slip, her animatronic apparatuses resemble both homemade machines and human entrails; the viscous liquids that slosh through them could easily be mistaken for blood, saliva, or bodily waste. Provocative and unsettling, Lee’s theatrical endeavors produce a deeply psychological resonance for viewers, establishing how powerfully the commonplace status of her sculptural materials can give complex feelings a corporeal form.
Titled after Black Sun (1987)—a study of depression and melancholia by the Bulgarian-French feminist and philosopher Julia Kristeva. In Kristeva’s text, she describes the black sun of melancholia as an “an abyss of sorrow,” akin to a hole, a vortex, or a chasm. Led by concerns of space, atmosphere, and materials, the tactile qualities of Lee’s newest work reflect Kristeva’s analogy, taking the form of a psychically charged structure, which like a hole, can shrink and expand, or hold and expel.
In recent years, Lee has created environments that produce profoundly physical experiences, ranging from dry and rattling mechanistic atmospheres to carcass-like objects that spurt, drip, and ooze mysterious fluids, or others that transform their enclosures over time. Drawing references from architecture, horror, pornography, and cybernetics, and evoking bodily functions, technological transformation, and environmental decay, Lee offers an intuitive means to describe properties that persist in a post-human world: humor, desire, abjection, anxiety, and revulsion, among other states. Staged with churning sculptures constructed from clay, ceramic, cement, latex, and silicone, and walls lined with clay-dipped fabric, “Black Sun,” too, is an assault on the senses. The smell of wet clay, the mixture of hard and soft material, the sound of dripping glycerin and silicone oil, the whirring of peristaltic pumps and motors, and the thrashing of machinery mix with the heavy air of humidity created by steam machines. To Lee, the process of creating these sensory spaces attempts to “convert the abstract to the visceral”.
Text and images courtesy of the artist and New Museum, New York.