8 Oct 2009 — 7 Nov 2009

 Sekyung Lee's page
Sekyung Lee
Hair on the white porcelain

Gallery 2 presents Germany based artist Sekyung Lee's solo show. She collects the plain white porcelain including plates and tiles and attaches human hairs on them.
Lee explains why she began to work with hairs by a personal anecdote. She has kept long hair since childhood and often got a scolding for her hairs scattered all about. In fact, this is a universal story that might be familiar to every woman, who conventionally keeps her hair long and beautiful, but the cherished hair becomes a dirty and even creepy object if once it falls on the floor. For Lee, the hair is not merely a medium but a subject matter to contemplate from multiple perspectives of personality, sexuality, history, and culture.

For all times and places, the hair is an important bodily medium to express beauty, sexuality, and social class, thus it implies various stories from personal memory to history, about fashion and culture. It also has opposite and even paradoxical meanings of beauty and dirtiness-beautiful when stuck to the body, dirty when parted from the body. Being interested in such an ambiguous characteristics of the hair, on what it could mean and when the meaning is turned upside down, Lee develops her own mode of expression based on handicraft and decoration so as to clarify her concerns.

The decorative patterns that Lee makes use of when attaching hairs on a porcelain plate or tile are all borrowed from a specific historical material, such as the Zwiebel Muster from German Meissen Porcelain in the 1930s, the geometric patterns from Russian Constructivism in the 1920s, or the traditional tile pattern from the Netherlands and Portugal in the 17th and 18th century. Here the patterns and designs are not an iconic sign but a device to draw out a subtle point when the hair abruptly looks different or the ambiguity of the hair is suddenly reveals to the audience. Thus Lee considers the cultural background of the exhibition when she chooses a pattern to apply to her hair-on-porcelain works.
For this show, Lee makes a series of works with the specific patterns of the Korean white porcelain from the Chosun dynasty. Because its design looks familiar to the Korean audience, as the Meissen’s looks natural to the European audience.
The porcelain decorated with hairs in the historical patterns is coated for preservation and displayed on the pedestal or in the glass case. Then the audience carefully looks at them as if they are in the museum or in the porcelain shop. They might be confused when realizing that the very thing they are staring at is nothing but an illusion conjured up by some hairs on the anonymous and plain porcelain. In fact, the audience reacts upon the works in various ways, and the artist pays attention to the reactions and the changes of their awareness.

The artist raises a question on when our experience and awareness of the things are changed to herself and us in her own unique way.
Installation View