Artists: Mire Lee, Yong Xiang Li, Pedro Neves Marques, Issy Wood
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Venue: Antenna Space, Shanghai
Exhibition Title: Breathing Through Skin
Date: November 7, 2020 – January 16, 2021
Curated By: Alvin Li
Note: A text associated with the exhibition is available here.
Images courtesy of Antenna Space, Shanghai
Bringing together new and recent works—several of which have been especially conceived for this occasion —Breathing Through Skin highlights four artists and their critical invocations of monstrosity — the monster as constructed motif in horror and the monstrous as an inherent wildness intrinsic to desire. Together, these works traverse a range of binaries, provoking an erotic and affective engagement with bodies in the world, beyond the trappings of monstrified difference.
The monstrous body is always a construct and a projection, bearing the traces of historically specific othering processes. In Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), the quintessential modern vampire novel, the eponymous Count Dracula embodies an eclectic range of traits—race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality—all of which were deemed threatening to British national identity at the time by and within fictional texts, sexual science, and psychopathology. Whereas Dracula incarnated the phobias of the Victorian era, contemporary vampires like those in the Vampire Chronicles and Twilight series are no longer monstrous or even particularly distant from hegemonic identity: they are white, monogamous, purely aesthetic creatures (and oftentimes collectors). This latter day fantasy of the vampire entails an act of far greater violence than its 19th-century Gothic predecessors: the total erasure of otherness from representation. Meanwhile in reality, through advanced biotechnologies, the monstrification and erasure of certain bodies has evidently continued, if not intensified, becoming ever stealthier.
Jack Halberstam relates the popular consumption of horror to the genre’s defining affective structure: “[The] monster inspires fear and desire at the same time: fear of and desire for the other, fear of and desire for the possibly latent perversity lurking within readers and audiences themselves.” The entwined feelings of dread and want that operate within horror not only make it a particularly productive genre for appropriation, but also reveal the ambivalent, unruly, sometimes ‘perverted’ dimension of desire.
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In this exhibition Yong Xiang Li and Pedro Neves Marques contribute new narrative works to the monster canon, appropriating the technologies of monster-making to destabilize and challenge a range of deep-rooted epistemological binaries: us and others, male and female, human and non-human. Meanwhile, interested in abjection and perversion, Mire Lee and Issy Wood present moody, sensuous works that channel a sense of vital eroticism.
Mire Lee (b.1988, Seoul) currently lives and works in Amsterdam. She creates sculptural representations of the tense, uncertain zone between love and hate. Originating in the interaction between the artist and her created bodies of work, Lee’s sculptures are formed from materials such as steel, silicone, and clay, and function with low-tech kinetics and animatronic-like technology. Most of her pieces are site-specific, humanlike, and defined by affection. The tension comes from a personal attraction and attachment that also contains a strong layer of anxiety; jointly these feelings are transferred onto the sculptures, emotionally laden volumes that reveal hereditary discomfort. Lee perceives her practice as a consequence of ambivalent relations in which she takes ardent care of both her material input and sculptural outcomes. She testifies that her affective sculptural dedication can easily slip into fondness, fetishistic obsession, voyeurism, violation, or violence. Thus, her practice revolves around an abusive, almost masochist, relationship in which Lee wants to dominate and mould the material, have it surrender to her wants. At the same time, it is a reciprocal process in which the artist herself also is deeply affected by these intimate confrontations.
Lee has taken part in various exhibitions, including the solo exhibition War Isn’t Won by Soldiers It’s Won by Sentiments (Insa Art Space) and the group exhibitions Moving / Image (Arko Art Center), 2016 Media City Seoul NERIRI KIRURU HARARA (Seoul Museum of Art), 15th Lyon Contemporary Art Biennale Where Water Comes Together with Other Water etc.
Yong Xiang Li (1991, Changsha) is a Frankfurt-based artist. He works in diverse media and tests out the intersections of painting, sculpture and music and video. Influenced by writing of diaspora politics, his works often inhabit a spatial-temporal oddity beside the seemingly monolithic cultural formation. He completed Meisterschüler at Städelschule, Frankfurt in 2020. He has recently exhibited at Portikus in Frankfurt, Emanuel Layr in Vienna, Deborah Schamoni in Munich, Berlinskej Model in Prague, Long March project in Beijing, Aedt in Düsseldorf, etc.
Recent solo exhibitions include: Curl, Galerie Emanuel Layr, Vienna (2020); Companion, Jean Claude Maier, Frankfurt (2019).
Selected group exhibitions include: Fantasy Finery, Berlinskej Model, Prague (2020); Fables of Resurrection, Galerie Deborah Schamoni, Munich(2020); Rundgang, Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main, Germany(2020); The Deficit Faction, Long March Project, Beijing(2019); Ford Every Streams, Galleria Acappella, Italy(2019); Fruit Suspended and Swaying, Aedt, Düsseldorf(2019); Double Trouble, Root Canal, Amsterdam(2019); Rundgang, Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main(2019); Appearing Unannounced, painnale 2018, Chiang Mai, Thailand(2018); Knockonneighbourwood, Mckinsey Exhibition, Frankfurt am Main(2018); I know what you did last summer, Basis, Frankfurt am Main(2018); Summer Buzz, Johanne, Frankfurt am Main(2018); Radio Ufff! at fffriedrich, Frankfurt am Main(2018); Back to Them, Gärtnergasse, Vienna(2018); Rundgang, Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main(2018); Vida de Cão, Münchener Straße 10, Frankfurt am Main(2017); Before, After the Butcher, Berlin(2016); Rundgang, Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main(2016).
Issy Wood (b. 1993, Durham, NC) lives and works in London, UK. In 2015, she received her BA in Fine Art & History of Art from Goldsmiths College, London. In 2018, she received her MA from RA schools, London.
Recent solo exhibitions include: X Museum, Beijing (forthcoming); daughterproof, JTT, New York (2020); All The Rage, Goldsmiths CCA, London (2019); Joan, D.E.L.F., Vienna (2018); When You I Feel, Carlos/Ishikawa, London (2017); Rosetta Stone, Triumph, Moscow (2015).
Selected group exhibitions include: Drawing 2020, Gladstone Gallery, New York (2020); Must Dream About Blue Tonight, Sifang Art Museum, Nanjing (2020); Claude Mirrors, three person show (with Victor Mann and Jill Mulleady), Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin (2019); Arte contemporanea in Gran Bretagna, International Gallery of Modern Art, Ca’Pesaro, Venice (2019); World Receivers, Zabludowicz Collection, London (2019); The Rest, Lisson Gallery, New York (2019); Nightfall, Mendes Wood DM, Brussels (2018); Darren Bader: I don’t know, Société, Berlin (2018); Dreamers Awake, White Cube, London (2017), among others.
Pedro Neves Marques(b. 1986, Lisbon, Portugal) is an artist and writer whose films explore ecology, the earth ’s natural resources, and the politics and practices that govern humans’ interactions with them. Neves Marques creates films that teeter between documentary and science fiction and that blur the lines between what in our world feels eerily futuristic and what is simply a continuing echo of the past. Throughout, they delve into topics including genetically modified organisms (GMO), oil rigs and gas pipelines, market growth models and industrial agriculture, and gender issues and the history of colonialism to better understand the ways in which these systems interact and place certain worldviews above others.
HAUT (based between Berlin and London) is a sound artist, music producer and performer working across the fields of experimental electronic music, dance and human-computer interaction. Their work spans from live performances and immersive sound installations to music scores for dance pieces and movies.
Recent exhibitions and live performances include: HAU – Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin; Gasworks, London; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Nottingham Contemporary Museum; Pérez Art Museum of Miami；Dock 11, Berlin; HBTQ-Klubb, Stockholm; 3HD, Berlin; Kunsthalle Zurich. HAUT’s music scores for film and dance have been presented in festivals such as New York Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Pomada Dance Festival Warsaw and PQ Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, among many others. They are a PhD candidate in Arts and Computing at Goldsmiths College University of London where they research the application of biotechnologies to develop new ways of musical performance. They hold a degree in Medicine from University of Porto and a Masters in Music from Goldsmiths College London. In 2017 they were awarded a scholarship from the Musicboard Senat Berlin.