Glasgow Sculpture Studios (GSS) is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work, Journal of Bouba/kiki, by Korean artist Haegue Yang, borne out of a three-month production residency that the artist undertook at GSS from June until September 2013.
The artist’s long-standing interests in the economy of labour, fabrication, movement, handicraft and abstraction have a continued presence in this exhibition. Examining what ‘production’ means in terms of an artist’s practice today, Yang brings together a variety of working methods. Her works range from complex installations using high-end fabrication with industrially produced and commercially available products, to hand-made sculptures and objects using traditional handicraft techniques. The handicraft pieces made from craft techniques such as knitting, paper making, origami and macramé are typically considered to be amateur, quotidian and less labour intensive, when compared to the conceptual and technologically advanced processes involved with her larger installations. This apparent opposition could be read as dialectic however, Yang sees them as a complementary combination. Yang is an artist that continuously pushes the boundaries of her practice engaging with new methodologies and ways of making. Using the idea of a ‘production’ residency as a challenge to her own efficiency, where she is away from her usual safe environment of the studio, the artist has embraced GSS’ extensive range of processes and facilities for working to create an exciting and dynamic new body of work.
The exhibition brings together four new projects by Yang, developed entirely at GSS, with one pre-existing work that was produced during another production residency undertaken by the artist at Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI), Singapore in November 2012. A major new venetian blind installation, Three Folds and Multiple Twists 2013, forms the central part of her presentation. Yang’s interest in blinds stem in part from their limited function – they are made to simply conceal and to reveal – and yet she continually finds new ways to experiment with their configuration. In this installation a number of the lower blinds subtly twist in accordance with a choreographed programme. This presents a sensory experience for the viewer, as their perspective is altered as they encounter the work from various positions within the gallery. These twisting blinds further develops Yang’s interest in the mechanical movement of blinds, which was first seen in her major installation Approaching: Choreography Engineered in Never-Past Tense2012 at last year’s dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany. At GSS however, the movement is minimal, delicate and intimate, reflecting upon the environment of the white gallery space as opposed to a hard-edged industrial setting. The title of the work, Three Folds and Multiple Twists, reflects the configuration in the space as the installation wraps around three columns of the main exhibition space.
Floating Knowledge and Growing Craft – Silent Architecture Under Construction 2013, is a two-part sculpture made using the traditional handicraft of macramé, and is a new departure for Yang. Accompanied with an iPod that plays a number of pod-casts, radio station and audio files that the artist listened to while she was making the work. The pod-casts are varied, and offer the audience a glimpse of the artist’s interest and passion for learning and knowledge, which in turn reveals a real insight into both the length of time taken and the labour-intensive process that the artist has placed into this macramé sculpture. Spice Sheets 2012 are a set of twenty prints produced at STPI, Singapore. Here the artist learnt methods of paper and print making. Their presence in this exhibition echoes the nature of hand-made production, which is witnessed in the macramé, and is an inherent theme of the exhibition.
A series of ceramic hands cast from life welcome the viewer to the exhibition. Sited at the entrance to the gallery and displayed on plinths and shelves that have been carved into the gallery wall, the work, entitled Two Ends of One 2013,could be seen as being a particularly pertinent introduction to both the show and Yang’s overarching interests. The individual sculptures depict a variety of hand gestures created by the artist to illustrate a connection or pairing between two ends of our body, namely fingers. It is in this work that Yang appears to separate and freeze in motion the act of labour, presenting us with a still life that captures the act of making in its most raw and simplified form. The work is motionless yet loaded with activity at the same time, the multiple poses arranged as if mid-way through a performance, unfolding a narrative of connected-ness.
The final work in the exhibition, Glasgow Tales of the Laugh 2013, consists of ten panels, which brings together a number of complex ideas. Taking photographs of public places in Glasgow, Yang explored different types of cultivated space, namely the Botanic Gardens and the Necropolis. These images are then married with text taken directly from Victor Hugo’s novel The Man Who Laughs first published in 1869, and written while the author was living on the Channel Islands during his exile from his native France.
Throughout the exhibition there is a consistent exploration of the dualities of the industrial and the domestic, technical and low-fi, organic and manual, all undertaken with a contemplative tone. The works created at GSS demonstrate the artist’s depth of material, yet also a persistent concern with, as the artist herself says, ‘desperate experimentation’.
Haegue Yang (Born 1971, Seoul, Korea; currently lives and works in Berlin and Seoul). Yang’s solo exhibitions have been held at renowned institutions such as Kunsthaus Bregenz, Modern Art Oxford, and Aspen Art Museum, to name but a few. Yang’s work has been shown extensively in biennales and notable group exhibitions. Amongst them are: Manifesta 4 (2002) in Frankfurt am Main, the 27th São Paulo Biennial (2006), If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want to Be Part of Your Revolution (2006 and 2007, different venues), Wessen Geschichte at the Kunstverein Hamburg (2008), the 55th Carnegie International in Pittsburgh (2008), or Abstract Possible: The Stockholm Synergies at the Tensta Konsthall in Stockholm (2012).