Home Architect Mire Lee on the cannibalistic imagination

Mire Lee on the cannibalistic imagination

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View of “Mire Lee: Black Sun,” 2023, New Museum, New York.  Photo: Dario Lasagni.

View of “Mire Lee: Black Sun”, 2023, New Museum, New York. Photo: Dario Lasagni.

Monuments of Mire Lee spring, yawn, cry and macerate. Drawing inspiration from body horror, hentai, scatology and vorarephilia, the South Korean sculptor crafts hyperbolic visceral forms that she mounts on scaffolding or suspends from the ceiling and outfits with clumsy low-tech motors. Actors in a theater of abjection, his histrionic automatons discharge liquids through intestinal tubes or deploy churning blades to tear soft materials into moist, macabre pieces. Lately, Lee has become interested in holes, which she characterizes as erotic sites of oozing and compression as well as affective zones beyond the reach of language. Its environment-exhibition dripping and riddled with orifices “Black Sun“, presented at the New Museum in New York from June 29 to September 17, takes up the psychoanalytical theories of Julia Kristeva, who evoked a melancholic state where the Other is “better fragmented, torn, cut, swallowed, digested. . . than lost. Below, Lee considers a sculptural realm grounded in impossible urges and ineffable voids.

I THOUGHT ABOUT calling my exhibit at the New Museum “Assholes,” but I decided that was too direct. The show is an immersive installation with kinetic sculptures that ooze and tumble liquid clay, set against walls covered in clay-dipped fabric. When I designed it, I was looking at pictures of different types of gaping holes online and thinking about how a body that stays open is radically permeable to the outside world: the inside comes out and the outside comes in. The anus in particular is a sort of erogenous hole which obliterates language; it is both a subject that cannot speak and something unspeakable. “Black Sunwhich I chose as the exhibition title, refers to Julia Kristeva’s 1987 book on depression and melancholy in relation to artistic creation. When you are in the depths of depression, not only do you lose the desire or need to communicate, but you also experience what basically cannot be verbalized. So you fall into holes and voids.

Holes first appeared in my art by accident: I was working with liquids, and the containers I made to hold those liquids often leaked. Controlling leaks was an obsession that eventually became a kind of impossibility. I became interested in making deliberately permeable bodies, resulting in motorized sculptures in which fluids spurt and drip from tubes, like the work I showed at the Biennale of Venice last year. [Endless House: Holes and Drips, 2022] or alongside HR Giger’s sculpture at the Schinkel Pavilion in 2021 [Carriers – offspring, 2021; Endless House, 2021].

Growing up, I consumed a lot of manga and drew my own erotic versions for entertainment. When I was ten years old, my father, who is a surrealist sculptor, gave me a catalog of Giger’s work, which made a big impression on me. I’ve found there’s something inherently stupid about sculpture as a medium: it takes so much work to produce, and when it inevitably fails, its rigidity means it takes a lot of effort to modify. and repair it. I constantly meet my limits because I realize that my visions or my ambitions exceed their container. I like to incorporate motorized elements because they look gross and act beyond my control; when I use machines to process malleable materials like clay or silicone, it warps those supports into weird shapes that I couldn’t have foreseen. People often associate my animatronic sculptures with conversations about technology, but what happens in my work is actually quite analog and goes against the slick aesthetic of new technology and new media. What intrigues me is the gap between human fantasies of technology in an ideally rendered world and real life, which is something you can touch and feel, full of sagging subjects that have been distorted by their passage in time.

Vorarephilia, or the erotic desire to consume or be consumed by another, has deeply inspired my sculptural practice. Formally, I like that vore relates to interiors, holes and channels, and emphasizes perversions of scale; to swallow the other being, the swallowing subject must be larger. Emotionally, I am moved by the motive of fetishism: this impossible urge to unite so completely with the object of desire that you are inside of them, or that they are inside of you, which joins the Kristevan ideas of the cannibalistic imagination. . I explore vore through consumption and regurgitation in free-standing sculptures, but it’s also an atmosphere that I try to build around my installations so viewers can feel consumed by the work. How my sculptures are experienced ultimately depends on the viewers’ situation in their own lives, but I think these works are particularly well suited to the many moments in life when things cease to make sense and crumble on top of them. themselves.

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