MMCA Hyundai Motor Series 2014: Lee Bul


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, 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.

About the Artist

Lee Bul (b. 1964, Yeongju, Korea) 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).

About the Program

MMCA Hyundai Motor Series

The MMCA Hyundai Motor Series is a pivotal part of the decade-long partnership between MMCA and Hyundai Motor, which aims to expand the field of Korean contemporary art and its role in the broader global dialogue. Each year, MMCA Seoul presents a major solo exhibition featuring new works by a Korean artist or collective. Accompanied by seminars and publications, this platform offers audiences an immersive encounter with the prevailing currents and vibrancy of Korean art today. The series began in 2014 with a groundbreaking exhibition by Lee Bul, followed by Ahn Kyuchul, Kimsooja, IM Heung-soon, CHOIJEONGHWA, Park Chan-kyong, Haegue Yang, MOON Kyungwon & JEON Joonho, and Choe U-Ram, and culminates in 2023-4 with Jung Yeondoo.

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