Polycarbonate sheet, acrylic mirror, LED lighting, electronic wiring, 330 x 3325 x 1850cm as installed. Photo: Jeon Byung-cheol, Courtesy: MMCA
MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2014: Lee Bul
September 30 2014 – March 29 2015, MMCA Seoul
About the Exhibition
For the inaugural MMCA Hyundai Motor Series, Lee Bul presented Civitas Solis II and Aubade III. Both large-scale installations were produced as part of Lee’s Mon Grand Récit series...
For the inaugural MMCA Hyundai Motor Series, Lee Bul presented Civitas Solis II and Aubade III. Both large-scale installations were produced as part of Lee’s Mon Grand Récit series, which she began developing in the mid-2000s as a means of continuing her exploration into the relationship between individuals and the collective, the liminal space between open and closed systems, and the often complicated outcomes that result from utopian visions.
Blasting open the idea of installation, Civitas Solis II filled the entire gallery with mirrors, creating a sense of infinite space through which visitors could wander. Inspired by Italian Renaissance philosopher Tommaso Campanella’s utopian text The City of the Sun, Lee’s installation took the physical form of a city surrounded by circular walls—except fragments of mirror placed on the floor created fractured images above, disturbing the otherwise serene experience.
Also on view was Aubade III, a massive sculpture that referenced Weimar architect Bruno Taut’s Monument des Neuen Gesetzes (1919) and the Hindenburg airship, while nodding to the popular trope in Medieval European poetry of lovers separating at dawn—or unfulfilled love. Periodically throughout the day, the gallery in which Aubade III was installed filled with white vapor so thick that visitors lost their sense of direction, left only with two blinking white lights as reference points until the vapor dissolved.
Lee Bul (born in Yeongju, Korea in 1964) has questioned and explored the ideas and limitations of society since the beginning of her career. During the 1980s and ’90s, Lee’s performances, installations, and multimedia works began considering ideas of beauty and destruction—ideas she continues to consider. Her work is included in museum collections including the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Tate, London. Lee has had recent solo exhibitions at Seoul Museum of Art (2021); SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah (2019); Martin-Gropius Bau, Berlin (2018); and Hayward Gallery, London (2018).