DA2 Domus Artium 2002, Salamanca

DA2 Domus Artium 2002 | Avenida de la Aldehuela s/n
37003 Salamanca

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artists & participants

press release

The Korean, Lee Bul is an interdisciplinary artist whose work has evolved from performance, drawing and sculpture, into installation and video. Bul first gained a reputation with his performances in which he appeared decked out in strange-looking, sometimes threatening pseudo-sculptural costumes that turned him into a kind of walking sculpture, dealing with aspects related to the manipulation of identity, both literally and figuratively. As such, he opened up fields of investigation such as immortality, artificiality, or the human body that allowed him to explore mankind’s eternal fascination with the unknown, the strange and even the monstrous.

As a logical consequence of this search for a new body capable of taking on board current techno-cultural contradictions and with a background projection of B-movies, Japanese science fiction cartoons and heroes from Greek mythology, Lee began a series of cyborg-like sculptures that represented another step further in his reflection on the binomials of body/mind, nature/artifice or the familiar/horrendous, and re-examined our fascination for the myth of man-machine.

Incomplete, in the sense that they lack certain limbs like arms, legs or heads, these cyborg-sculptures deal, in the words of Bul himself, with “our fear and fascination with the uncatalogable ad the strange – unheimlich.” The human body then becomes ambiguous, irreconcilable and unstable and can be used to represent the fantastic, which depends on the strangeness and randomness of its genesis within nature.

This demonstration of something beyond the rules – monstrum – that forms the cyborg, acquires its counterpoint in Bul’s more recent work; the monsters. On horseback among extraordinary plants, prehistoric creatures and malformations of science fiction, these installation sculptures are based on the metaphor of the sexless enigma of the hybrid human whose condition personifies the perfection of the human race, a perfection that suspends, annuls or neutralises whatever moral or physical category of value system is accepted by our society. These monsters – shapeless, unstable, timeless, baroque and pristine, ordered and chaotic , with their aseptic white beauty - reflect upon classical sculpture while evoking at the same time elements such as virtue and heroism.

Just as bacteria end up resisting the aseptic technology and infect our flesh, the human body will end up rotting itself with its incessant and insatiable search. When humans lose their ideals, when they become aseptic, they channel their inconformity towards their own body that little by little mutilates itself through inhuman regimes, imbalanced diets, plastic surgery, tattoos and piercing, in pursuit of an impossible dream.

The Salamanca exhibition traces the development of some of this young Korean artist’s most important work over the last seven years.

CV : Lee Bul (1964, Yongwol, South Korea) is one of the most promising artists from a generation that emerged from Korea during the 90’s, which also included p.e. Do-Ho Suh and Sooja Kim. Lee Bul rapidly gained international recognition through his performances and his challenging and provocative sculptures of cyborgs and monsters. His works have been seen in both individual and collective exhibitions in leading museums and international biennials such as the Lyon Biennial (1997), The Venice Biennial (1999), the Istanbul Biennial (2001), in Let’s Entertain at the Walker Art Center de Minneapolis (2000), at the Toronto Power Plant (2003), at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – SFMoMA - (2001), the Hugo Boss Prize at the Guggenheim Museum in New York (1998), at the New Museum of Nueva York (2002) and more recently at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney (2004) and the Govett Brewster Art Gallery in New Zealand (2006). In 2007 he will be exhibiting at the Cartier Foundation in París.

Concept: As the title suggests, Lee Bul: Aseptia brings together works that visually recall atmospheres of asepsia while also alluding to the contradiction of humanity itself, that in its search for perfection and beauty, it ends up bringing about its own putrefaction. Metaphorically speaking, the pristine cyborgs and monsters are no more than the result of our lack of commitment towards the world that surrounds us, which leads us to channelling all of our rage against our own bodies.

Technical: Lee Bul: Aseptia brings together 20 pieces produced between 1999 and 2007, ten of which have been commissioned especially for the Salamanca show. This mini-retrospective will consist of drawings, sculptures, installations and video.

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Lee Bul: Aseptia
Kurator: Paco Barragan