by Sukanya GargSep 26, 2019
To create work while grappling with a diverse set of cultural and aesthetic philosophies is a staggering task. Haegue Yang navigates this tricky path with ease and finesse. With an otherworldly visual vocabulary, Yang draws you in smoothly, leading you into her world which distorts and questions boundaries of time and place. The Bass, Miami, hosts Yang’s artworks In the Cone of Uncertainty, a solo show which brings together her past works in combination with a commissioned site-specific wallpaper connecting two floors of the museum.
Yang was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, where she studied fine arts before moving to Germany in the late 1990s. Yang received her master’s in fine arts from a university in Frankfurt, and now lives and works as a practicing artist in Seoul and Berlin. Yang’s oeuvre explores scale and material through social, geopolitical and historical lenses. Her work references a wide array of cultural motifs, positioned in jarring juxtaposition with everyday objects creating intriguing sculptural artworks. She explores rich immersive spaces by summoning a hybrid of performative, sonic and atmospheric elements like wind, chiming bells and heat. At In the Cone of Uncertainty we see a significant part of Yang’s repertoire showcased. Curator Leilani Lynch brings together earlier works like Strange Fruit (2012) as well as more recent pieces like Boxing Ballet (2015). Every artwork by Yang is constructed with a directed enquiry into themes like domesticity, climate change, diasporic identities and more.
Within this tightly woven web of Yang’s artistic narrative, she crafts an experience firmly contextualised in the heart of Miami, using wallpaper as her medium. The graphic mural-like installation uses abstract composition with motifs like trees, water, as well as meteorological infographics and diagrams alluding to the imminent threat posed by climate change on the city of Miami. This artwork is suggestive of a world where the future is largely unstable and very uncertain. Yang is interested in the way climate crises can alter people’s experience of belonging and community and unconsciously bind people together through a shared determination to face a challenge and react in solidarity.
This vast diversity within themes and media used by Yang makes this exhibition a joy as well as a challenge to curate. The in-house curator at The Bass talks to us about her experience as curator of such a massive solo exhibition. “It was a wonderful challenge to navigate the diversity of media that Yang utilises in her work. Because of the works' varying materials and scale, we decided to dedicate two floors to the exhibition - an unprecedented presentation for a single artist at the museum. There are elements found across multiple bodies of work, despite varying construction, in the exhibition such as caster wheels and venetian blinds, which unify the exhibition from room to room, as well,” says Lynch.
Yang has been a part of a number of major exhibitions like Documenta, Venice Biennale, Sharjah Biennial, La Biennale de Montreal, MoMA and many more. Her art is also part of permanent collections in MoMA (USA), Tate Modern (UK), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (USA), and National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (South Korea).
In the Cone of Uncertainty will continue to be on display until April 5, 2020.