Haegue Yang is an artist known for her subtle use of mundane objects within sensory installations. Yang graduated with a BFA from Seoul National University, then attended Städelschule Frankfurt am Main, Germany, receiving an MFA in 1999. Today, she lives and works in Seoul and Berlin.Read More
Yang’s work often incorporates ordinary items such as lightbulbs, clothing racks, industrial fans and blinds. Of these objects, venetian blinds have become a key part of her most recognised works. Yang first used venetian blinds in 2006 to capture her now longstanding interest in kinetic sculpture. Suspended from the ceiling or arranged in a structure, the blinds usually invite the viewer to navigate through them. Inside the installation, the viewer becomes aware of the play between light and shadow while fans create further motion, heightening the smell and humidity in the air. Objects quotidian in nature mediate the senses, prompting the onlooker to reimagine not only the objects’ function but also the space they create.
An international artist who has spent most of her adulthood outside her homeland, Yang shows particular interests in migration and diaspora, drawing inspiration from various cultures for her work. Instead of considering one culture at a time, however, she makes multiple cultural references in one work. The way she shapes her work resembles the manner of migration; it is as though the sculpture travels and serves as a medium in which elements of different cultures converge. While these elements do not contradict each other, they are disparate—as unlike each other as a Native American medicine man figure and Igor Stravinsky’s ballet and orchestral work The Rite of Spring (1993). Yang merges differences into one entity—a hybrid that transcends time and place.
A common feature many of Yang’s works share is their iterations. Some are part of a single collection, such as Medicine Men (2010) and her ‘Sonic’ sculpture series (2013–ongoing). Others like Storage Piece (2004) and The Malady of Death (2008–ongoing) are reborn throughout the years. With The Malady of Death in particular, Yang demonstrates her versatility by venturing into the realm of performance and conducting a stage reading. Inspired by Marguerite Duras’ 1982 novella of the same name, the reading is as much a new experience for the viewer as it is for the artist herself. Each performance features a different reader and stage, and each iteration holds a different revelation about the novella.
On her philosophy as an artist, Yang explained in her 2014 conversation with Ocula Magazine that art should be an experience, though not necessarily understood. Hence, abstraction is the primary language in her works. However, this does not mean she deliberately creates enigmas. In fact, Yang seeks to invoke in her audience an experience of senses—feelings that may not be understood in words. She calls the process ‘empowerment’: first drawing the viewer into her work—be it an installation of venetian blinds or a collection of sculptures—then granting to the viewer autonomy to freely navigate and realise the space’s full potential.
Before Yang came to prominence internationally, she received recognition as the recipient of the 2005 Cremer Prize and the Baloise Prize in 2007. Her breakthrough was in 2009 when she represented South Korea at the 53rd Venice Biennale, where she was also the first female artist to represent the country. Since then, her works have been exhibited internationally, including dOCUMENTA 13 (2012), the 8th Gwangju Biennale (2010) and the 9th Taipei Biennial (2014). Yang has also been shown in solo and group exhibitions at institutions such as Haus der Kunst, Munich (2012–13) and Bergen Kunsthall (2013).
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2017
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Eerily crackling through an old speaker, backing singers 'ba-pa-ba' to xylophones. A woman touts the coming of the millennium, her voice spinning giddily over thrumming guitars and squelching synths. Playing outside the entrance to Haegue Yang's solo show in Kukje Gallery's K3 exhibition space, Hae-kyung Min's 1982 track 'AD 2000' sounds like a...
They say art is abstract. But wait until they see the works of Haegue Yang. Even this broad term doesn't fully encapsulate the creations of the Korean artist, who is taking abstractionism to a whole new level.
Yang Hae-gue has turned a gallery space into a place full of ill-matched images. Colors on the walls both dazzle and confuse visitors. Sitting in the middle are sonic and mobile sculptures. Scented gym balls roll between movable versions of her signature venetian-blind sculptures. And shallow layers of artificial fog from the corners fill the...
One difference between a diagram and a tracing is their relationship to abstraction. To diagram is to anticipate the production of something new, and a diagram's information can be read selectively. To trace is to attempt to capture the totality of a formation as something absent. Haegue Yang's exhibition Tracing Movement is marked by a tension...
Haegue Yang (*1971 in Seoul, South Korea) interweaves political narratives with materiality and ornamentation, creating objects and installations that are conceptually multilayered and sensually immersive.