Both repulsive yet curiously compelling, Mire Lee's kinetic sculptures explore notions of sexuality and desire. Common to Lee's works is her use of silicone hoses and tubes, whose repetitive movements include transporting and extracting a milky, glutinous liquid.Read More
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.
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.
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).
Mire Lee has held numerous solo exhibitions, including Carriers, Art Sonje Center, Seoul (2020); words were never enough, LilyRobert, Paris (2020); Het is of de stenen spreken, Casco Art Institute, Utrecht (2019); and War is Won by Sentiment Not by Soldiers, Insa Art Space, Seoul (2014).
Selected group exhibitions include Het HEM, Zaandam (2021); Breathing Through Skin, Antenna Space, Shanghai (2020); Surface Tension, Sharjah Art Foundation (2019); Gwangju Biennale (2018); Moving / Image, Arko Art Center, Seoul (2017); A Snowflake, Kukje Gallery, Seoul (2017); NERIRI KIRURU HARARA, Mediacity Seoul 2016, Seoul Museum of Art (2016).
Lee was shortlisted for the Future Generation Prize in 2021, the same year as Tina Kim Gallery began representing the artist. A solo presentation of Lee's works at Tina Kim is scheduled for September 2022.
Mire Lee's website can be found here.
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2021