b. 1988, South Korea

Mire Lee Biography

Both repulsive yet curiously compelling, Mire Lee's kinetic sculptures explore notions of sexuality and desire.

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Mire Lee Artworks

Common to Lee's works is her use of silicone hoses and tubes, whose repetitive movements include transporting and extracting a milky, glutinous liquid. 'I feel very attached to materials that can be deformed and damaged ... I think the material's malleability connects to something more universal,' the artist told Ocula Magazine in 2022.

Kinetic Sculptures

Mire Lee's kinetic sculptures typically involve simple mechanisms, enabling repetitions of movements that reflect her interest in anthropomorphic sculptures. While participating in the group exhibition The Art of Not Landing at Seoul's Cake Gallery in 2016, the artist presented works including Exercise for things with bones (2016), which began as a small metal object that reminded Lee of legs. Fueled by a tiny motor, the kinetic sculpture causes the two horizontal parts of the objects to appear as though they are walking.

As Lee continued to experiment with machinery and its evocation of the human body, her sculptures began to resemble living organisms. Saboteurs, exhibited at the 15th Lyon Biennale in 2019, consists of pumps, pipes, and tubes that contort and crawl across the floor while secreting a white mixture of glycerine and other viscous substances.

Fetish and Vorarephilia

Fetishes and erotic desires are recurring subjects in Mire Lee's practice. In 2015, while staying in Paris for a residency, various city lockdowns following the Bataclan attacks led the artist to fixate on the media coverage of the attacks and grope porn—a genre of pornography in which unsuspecting young women are assaulted on public transport. Lee's fascination with the genre would surface in her video installations such as Andrea, in my mildest dreams (2016) and Andrea, Ophelia, at the endless house (2018), which incorporate clips from pornographic videos before the 'groping' happens.

'Vore', short for vorarephilia, the fetish of being swallowed by or swallowing another, also appears in several of Lee's works. The pipes and hoses in Ophelia when you died (2018) destruct themselves in a sequence of movements that evoke an abortion, while i wanna be together (2019) sees the artist stuff parts of artworks by other artists—including Kanitha Tith and Marie Rime—inside translucent tubes. In both works, the distance between one entity and the other is completely obliterated, causing them to become one.

Carriers

In Carriers, her 2020 solo exhibition at Art Sonje Center in Seoul, Mire Lee envisioned bodies and her sculptures as 'carriers'. Resembling an animal's intestines, the centrepiece Carriers (2020) repeatedly extracts, carries, and produces a viscous substance through its tubes. On the floor were a group of sculptures titled Horizontal Forms, also reminiscent of innards, which the viewer could study from a voyeuristic position on Concrete Benches for "Carriers" (both 2020).

Hyundai Commission

In February 2024, Tate Modern announced that Lee will create the next annual Hyundai Commission for the Turbine Hall.

Exhibitions

Mire Lee has held solo exhibitions at New Museum, New York (2022); Tina Kim Gallery, Seoul (2022); Art Sonje Center, Seoul (2020); Casco Art Institute, Utrecht (2019); and Insa Art Space, Seoul (2014).

Lee's work has also been shown in group presentations including the 59th Venice Biennale (2022); 58th Carnegie International (2022); Antenna Space, Shanghai (2020); Sharjah Art Foundation (2019); Gwangju Biennale (2018); Arko Art Center, Seoul (2017); and Mediacity Seoul 2016, Seoul Museum of Art (2016).

Further Information

Mire Lee's website can be found here.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2021

Mire Lee
featured artworks

Black Sun: Surface with Many Holes, Studio Prototype #1 by Mire Lee contemporary artwork sculpture, textile
Mire Lee Black Sun: Surface with Many Holes, Studio Prototype #1, 2023 Chipped fabrics, clay, epoxy, rebar mesh
100 x 50 x 5 cm
Tina Kim Gallery Request Price & Availability
Untitled (burlap body piece with many holes) III by Mire Lee contemporary artwork sculpture
Mire Lee Untitled (burlap body piece with many holes) III, 2024 Burlap, dried clay, wood
45 x 76 x 72 cm
Sprüth Magers Request Price & Availability
Endless House: Holes and Drips (Sculpture #2) by Mire Lee contemporary artwork sculpture
Mire Lee Endless House: Holes and Drips (Sculpture #2), 2022 Concrete, fabrics, pigmented resin, glycerin, and other mixed media
40 x 94.3 x 46 cm
Tina Kim Gallery Request Price & Availability

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