press release

Haegue Yang
Continuous Reenactments
November 24, 2023–April 7, 2024

HAM Helsinki Art Museum presents Haegue Yang’s first solo exhibition in Finland. Occupying HAM’s two main exhibition halls, Continuous Reenactments offers a profound insight into Yang’s prolific and virtuosic works.

Yang is renowned for her labour-intensive, yet unrestricted craft-based methods drawn from various folk traditions, melding arrays of organic and synthetic materials together with industrially manufactured items. Combining rich materiality, conceptual complexity, and an abundance of visual references, her exhibitions create immersive sensory experiences in the language of visual abstraction. Ensuring that her references remain wayward and personalised, Yang prizes fluidity over unified narratives.

“HAM’s stunning arched exhibition halls at the former Tennis Palace provide a generous setting for Haegue Yang’s first solo exhibition in Finland. Yang’s relentless curiosity has led her to cross-disciplinary fields, entailing socio-political narratives, literature, music, and anthropological perspectives, positioning her at the forefront of the contemporary art world today. Yang’s artistic approach is bound to transcend boundaries and spark fresh perspectives. Our renewing museum is delighted to present Continuous Reenactments that activates our perception beyond the visual,” remarks Arja Miller, the Director of HAM.

At HAM, Yang builds an enthralling arena with performative and sonic elements to stage the concepts of recurrence and reenactment. Manifested through symmetric and asymmetric pairs, complementing duos, and interconnected sculptural groups, Continuous Reenactments investigates the ideas of doubling, mirroring, and reiterating, hereby pairing and juxtaposing seemingly oppositional notions such as abstraction and figuration, and domesticity and public, revealing their inseparability.

At the heart of the exhibition, visitors will encounter two monumental sculptural ensembles: Handles (2019) and Warrior Believer Lover – Version Sonic (2023). Both sculptural ensembles prominently feature metallic bells, which emit resonating rattling sounds when set in motion and are meanwhile perceived as one of the artist’s signature materials. Handles, which first premiered at MoMA in New York in 2019, is a multisensory installation comprising six sculptures with elements of wall objects and floor graphic adhesives, and an intricate soundscape. These sculptures are transformative, turning mundane objects into visually striking, movable artworks, and can be seen as hybrids, blurring the distinctions between human and technological beings. Warrior Believer Lover – Version Sonic is a reenactment of Warrior Believer Lover, Yang’s ambitious sculptural ensemble from 2011. While the predecessor consists of 33 anthropomorphic light sculptures, the new Version Sonic has so far evolved into a group of 21 sculptures, still in process of its completion. Their skin is covered with bells and festooned with wigs, artificial plants, solar panels, and LED lights alongside authentic organic materials such as dried pinecones. Periodically, music by Isang Yun (1917–1995) and Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971) will accompany Handles and Warrior Believer Lover – Version Sonicrespectively, creating immersive sculptural symphonies.

The exhibition is realised in partnership with S.M.A.K. Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent, Belgium and is supported by the Finnish Heritage Agency.