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K.NOTe no.15

Eunu Lee

Total Museum of Contemporary Art Publisher

Nathalie Boseul SHIN Editor-in-chief

 Jiyeon Paik Editor

Daeil KIM Designer


Date of publication Š reproduction of the contents of this magazine in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited.


The Object 2, 2014 Steel, urethane paint, rubber band, PVC pipe, wood, 40x40x73(h)cm **

Image Credit Courtesy of the artist

K.NOTe no.15

Eunu Lee

Some Objects, Some Manner, and the Things that Look that Way Among Eunu Lee’s works, let us first look into the three based on rather heterogeneous texts. In 2011, she cites John Baldessari’s I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art, repeating the sentence until she had consumed an entire pencil. As a boring reply to Baldessari’s boring conceptual art, Dear John, I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art consists of a 30cm wide paper filled with the aforementioned sentence that flows from the ceiling to the floor of the exhibition space. I Would Prefer Not To would be its responding antithesis. It is a text work that has sprayed onto a panel a sentence from Herman Melville’s novel Bartleby, the Scrivener, the protagonist Bartleby’s retort to his boss. The two negative sentences then generate a resonance along with a fierce shout: “Who Inspires Us and Instills in Us a Desire to Learn?”, a sentence the artist wrote on a big white advertising balloon at her solo exhibition in 2012. The artist had excerpted the sentence from Ch’ae Man-Sik’s novel A Ready-Made Life. The three sentences mentioned above seem to be a user guide and declaration, or the artist’s own guide for the objects that she has presented since 2012. Taking into account that it was after the 2012 solo exhibition at Seoul Art Space Hongeun that she sought a drastic change in her art from planes to objects, I let my imagination run loose, and believe that the artist herself is saying she “will not make any more boring art” and instead will fulfil her “desire to learn.” Then what is a “boring art”, what will the artist not do, and what intellectual appetite will she feed? The solo exhibition held in conclusion of the 2012 residency program was full of combinations of signs whose meaning could not be clearly read. She produced sentences and signs such as ?, O, X in the form of standing signboards, billboards and pickets, and organized them as a theater stage. Such display was in tune with the environment of the exhibition space that usually functions as a dance studio, with large mirrors installed all around the room. Whereas the attitude of the artist as a quasi-designer had been dominant in her previous works where she collected fragments of information that fit her interests and categorized and edited them according to certain conditions and visualized them, the series of works she presented in the years 2012 and 2013 convey the attitude of an “artist as manager” that controls the industrial material used in

K.NOTe #15

Kim Jae-seok Text Eunah Park Translation This text was originally published in the exhibition catalog The Manner of Objects edited by Gallery Factory in 2014.


The Object 1, 2014 Steel, urethane paint, golf ball, wood, caster, 44x15.5x150(h)cm

A Pillar, 2014 Wood molding, urethane paint, 35x35x240(h)cm

making the object, the composition method of such material, and the distribution of the work. How did such change in the artistattitude affect her work? What is the common issue that runs through the roles of editor, engineer, interior designer, and artist — these roles that contradict and subtly intersect one another — she has played? Due to the nature of different information that act as the starting point of her art, her work has been interpreted not in terms of the artistic form, but rather in regards to the content of conveying political or social messages. Statistics on the disabled, immigrant, and female workers, 2004~2005 (2004~2005) is a variation of a graph Vladimir Lenin had created in 1905 to compare the ratio of land ownership between landlords and peasants into contemporary conditions of the disabled, females, and immigrant workers in Korea; Google Landscape 2006~2007 (2006~2008) is a documentation on graph paper of the trajectory of the places shot by aerial photography on Google Earth; One Fine Day by OWI (2007) is an oil painting on which she represented, in blue, the fumes of bombardment in a photograph taken by the US Office of War Information; National Flags: Colors and Shapes (2008, 2014) is a re-enumeration and recombination of 193 national flags according to the meaning of color and shape; 300,000,000 KRW, Korea, 2010 (2011) is a collection of 1167 floor plans of apartments that were registered in 2010 as 300 million KRW on a portal real estate website, in which the artist rearranged the images according to size, transaction price, and year of construction. Such works fall under the aforementioned category. The issues of social minority, war and peace, and the economic gap between regions or classes represented through apartments that can be derived from such works seem to, at first glance, all point toward a “socially engaged” subjectivity. But although these works were processed through the stages of collection/categorization/editing, it is neither logic nor order that is accentuated, but an arbitrariness of art historical forms that the artist has arbitrarily paired with the information she has organized. For example, The ancient icon of black square, the minimal alignment of blue dots, the grids on graph paper, the colors of national flags listed as if on a color chart, the abstract signs made from arbitrary combination of such colors and patterns, and the cubic form of apartment floor plans. 3, 5, 8, 9mm / W R B Y G NY NO NR NP (2008) is a playful work in which the artist set up the preconditions of the art and then enjoyed the autonomy acquired within the conditions. She mechanically repeated and combined/aligned 30 label stickers of different sizes and colors

according to the number of cases. Looking back, Eunu Lee’s works announced before 2012 are read as homage to the geometrical heroes of art history, from representative artists of Minimalism to Malevich. The transition from the two-dimensional such as painting, drawing, Power Point, and publication to objects had not been smooth. The heterogeneous logic within the aforementioned works was repeated in working with objects as well, but the disparity seemed to have become greater. At the Suitable Forms held at Common Center in 2013, artist Eunu Lee was more actively practiced the designerbecoming. She started from the condition that Common Center was a new exhibition space with a formal opening ahead, and used the industry standard measurement of the material (plywood) to create Freestanding Wall Cabinet (2013) that consists of five 240cmhigh temporary walls functioning as storage. The white monuments disguised as temporary walls and cabinets in the exhibition space were too heavy to be of practical use. On the other hand, the useless Sidewalk Blocks (2013) placed in between these temporary walls had been an acrylic representation of minimal patterns extracted from the monotonous adhesive vinyl sheets. As a group of 8 acrylic square plates of 30cm width and 1.5cm thickness, this work was sentineled by the temporary walls and better showed off its presence than the walls despite the size difference. The glass placed as its pedestal and the installation of antique desk lamp also helped in bringing about such sensation. How are we to analyze the conflict in usefulness and uselessness of an object, the sense of identity unique to artists and the attitude of designers faithful to the needs of the user, the twofold manner of exhibition space usage, calling forth the grammar of white cubes into a space (Common Center) that is far from a white cube, Donald Judd-like furniture design, monumentation of temporary walls, Carl Andrelike floor pieces, and the irony of naming the work “Sidewalk Blocks� to stress the fragility of material? Or, would it be that the artist was more fascinated by the boundary points of such conflict? Eunu Lee continued using objects to interpret the materiality and usage, standard size and style of industrial materials with the language of art history. Storage Boxes for Printed Matter (2013) is a functional object for the designer duo Eunjoo Hong, Hyungjae Kim that serves to efficiently organize all sorts of printed matter. Composed of ten differently sized boxes made of MDF, sliced veneer, and tempered glass, Storage Boxes for Printed Matter follows the industry standard of printing papers repeated in doubles.


Blue Rectangles, 2014 Urethane paint, steel, 140x39x74cm


Orange Rectangles, 2014 Urethane paint, steel, 40x40x40cm


Green Circles, 2014 Urethane paint, steel, 32x32x45(h)cm, 3 pieces

Except for the superfluous agreement drawn up to provide the alibi as an “artwork”, this piece resembles the cubic structures of Russian Constructivism or Bauhaus. As a continuance of this work, A Specific Item (2013) presented at Art Space Pool’s A House Yet Unknown is a 30×260×390cm sized structure hung on the ceiling that is made of frosted glass, one-way glass, pattern glass, colored glass, wired glass, and hardwood. Installed as a window in a haunted house, this work is a Gerhard Richter-like glass-painting that has composed the glass as a chart format, and at the same time functions to disperse the gazes in the exhibition space. The mode of organizing the raw material as a chart was most accentuated in Referential Project 1, 2 (2012). Having created plywood, lumber, tiles, molding, decorative light, and urethane wheel into 250cmtall moving objects, this work is a magazine-like monument that samples various decorative materials and lights. To quote the artist, this work has “rearranged and linked the photographs from interior design magazines into one module, following a certain style of interior décor commonly appreciated in Korea, such as ‘luxury’, ‘modernism’, and ‘minimalism’.” She evidently was fascinated by the deformations and dents generated in the historicity and original meaning of such words as the terms were appropriated into a Korean context. This work was used as a stage prop for the performance of Hyun-joon Chang and Eun- jin Choi, and then destroyed. Eunu Lee’s objects that (are regarded to) have secured a certain functionality do not settle on the platform of relational aesthetics either. At this exhibition The Manner of Objects she rather sharply discerns the boundary— that between art and design, decoration and artwork, function and unfunctionality, materiality of ingredient and limitations in realizing an idea, limiting conditions of art production and autonomy of the artist—and contemplates what is to remain at the end. Would it not be decoration (decorativity) that prevails at that end? A yellow disk hanging on a flat bar frame that resembles a radiator, an orange cone protruding from piles of plates, four green golf balls attached to a blue plate lying askew, white molding structures in the white corner of walls arranged as if to look sunken. These objects either decorate the exhibition space itself, or even inside the structure of artwork, exist as mere abstract decoration-signs too pretty to be deemed necessary. Even the “standard dimension” of desks, tea tables, backless chairs, and steel pipes—the significant condition the artist has set for her art production—merely functions as a device that reinforces the objecthood of objects, and is nothing more than a decorative

rhetoric that has no power over regulating the inner logic of the art. With the estrangement effect of an infinite autonomy that transposes the logic of art the artist had set as if she were an ascetic with the decoration (decorativity) of art, would it be that Eunu Lee seeks to acquire a third inner logic that has till now been absent or unobvious? But we cannot yet draw a conclusion. It is because the objects in the gallery look like not the objects themselves, but rather as a compressed file-mass that has scraped up old narratives within art history that talk of the materiality of object, theatricality, perspective, arbitrariness of content and form, tactility, illusion, mathematics of units, proportion, and surface. Before we uncompress the zip file, the things captured by our eyes are a mere eccentric combination of decorative signs. Thus, these works are indeed decorative. I detect a peculiar sense of freedom that the artist would have felt in such decoration (or such visual effects). There is yet no way of telling where Eunu Lee’s intellectual appetite will be ultimately headed.

Eunu Lee Eunu Lee (b. 1982, Seoul, Korea) holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Korea National University of Arts, Seoul, Korea. She is also a co-founder of COMMON CENTER, an art space which established in 2014, Seoul. Her works focus on how objects are used in real life, rather than on the abstract concept of objects. These conventional usages of objects such as manufacturing process, or various standard units are function as the raw materials for her works. She recently held her solo exhibition “The Manner of Objects” in Gallery Factory, Seoul (2014), and has also participated in Changwon Sculpture Biennale, Changwon (2014), Art Sonje Lounge, Seoul (2012), Gallery Hakgojae (2010), and Biz-art Center, Shanghai (2008). http://www.eunulee.com/

Kim Jae-seok Kim Jae-seok is a editor for Art in Culture. A double major in creative writing and archaeology/ art history at Wonkwang University, he completed his graduate studies in art theory at the Seoul National University College of Fine Arts. In addition to editing various art-related publications, he is also a regular contributor to art journals and other media. jskim@artinculture.kr

K. NOTe is a monthly digital publication that aims to introduce Korean artists and curators to overseas audiences. Much like an exquisitely interwoven Korean ‘Knot’, K.NOTe hopes to become a medium that creates strong ties and solid knots within the contemporary arts scene by publishing e-notebooks of Korean artists and events that are worthy of ‘Note’.


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