ART, DESIGN AND CULTURAL REPORTAGE: NEW YORK — LONDON
1 March 2011

Haunch of Venison is currently showing ‘Translation’, a collection of work by Korean artist Meekyoung Shin. The show features several of Shin’s impressive installations examining the dynamics of subversion between material and cultural form, managing to avoid what can come across as witty attempts at cultural reference that are seen often in post-modern art and design. The first gallery houses her ‘Translation Vases’ (2009), where a collection of Chinese porcelain vases having seemingly been left in the moment of unpacking, some displayed on top of their wooden shipping crates, some still remain well out of sight inside the partially opened boxes. Shin uses this moment of transition to conceptually ground this work; Featuring the dislocation of a ‘cultural known’- in this case cultural object icons- and highlighting the moment of its transition into another world- England via China; Gallery via factory. In working with forms of Chinese porcelain vases, which have been highly collectible in the past centuries, she directs attention to how cultural obsessions have lead to reproduction and subsequently the dislocation of the ‘original’ with its cultural heritage; The British ceramics industry had especially committed itself to imitating such Chinese techniques. Contrary to what the eye can observe of these vases- which are apparently imitation porcelain sans floral arrangement, the nose might pick up on the fragrant quality to the air- and thus one beholds a room that is in fact full of imitations in soap. This added level of material awareness becomes an immediate point of obsession for the viewer- taking our initial reaction and voiding it completely; The same room is now a double vision of the philosophical and tangible, housing both cultural dislocation and enslaved material translation.

Entrance to 'Translation Series' (2009) in the West Galleries, Haunch of Venison, London

'Translation Series' 2009

'Translation Series' 2009

'Translation Series' 2009

'Translation Series' 2009

'Translation Series' 2009

Detail from 'Translation Series' (2009) Soap, Pigment, Varnish

Detail from 'Translation Series' (2009) Soap, Pigment, Varnish

Detail from 'Translation Series' (2009) Soap, Pigment, Varnish

Continuing through a few galleries is a second installation titled ‘Ghost Series’, featuring collections of translucent vases in soap. These forms appear to be very modern and industrially made, but still make reference to original Chinese shapes. In this case they are stripped of their decoration and materiality, allowing us to consider how they exist without such features that were meticulously imitated and treasured.

'Ghost Series' (2010) Blue, Jade, Yellow, Black, Pink, Purple, Clear

'Ghost Series' Clear, 2010

'Ghost Series' Jade, 2010

'Ghost Series' Black, 2010

The show flips forms through the galleries. Adjoining the rooms showing Chinese vase translations are rooms with smaller mythological and religious figurative works which add breadth to Shin’s success in material translation of highly treasured, coveted forms. The Kuros series speaks to the disintegration that ancient statues undergo overtime, themselves having been naturally weathered. ‘Crouching Aphrodite’ and ‘Venus’ are rendered in soap, the slight translucency and gallery lighting creating believable replicas of such classic sculpture.

Seeing Shin’s ‘Toilet Buddha Series’ and ‘Golden Buddha’ reminded me of another Buddha by Chinese artist Zhang Huan, created from the ash of joss sticks pressed into a large aluminium mold. The work used a material relative to the form but subverts the representation. Similarly Shin is using the soap to connect an idea of cleansing with religion, of daily washing as a ceremonial act- both still disintegrating the soap form. Similarly, with Huan’s Buddha in Haunch of Venison’s Berlin establishment, the community of viewers entering the gallery mimicked visitors in a temple, the Buddha crumbling from slight vibrations in the floor; The material in both cases becomes a tool for accessing the metaphysical.

Translation - Greek, 1998 140 x 44 x 30 cm

Detail of Translation- Greek, 1998

Detail of Translation- Greek, 1998

'Crouching Aphrodite', 2002 + Toilet Buddha Series (2010)

Detail of 'Crouching Aphrodite' 2002

Detail of 'Golden Buddha' 2010, Soap, gold leaf, varnish

'Venus' 1998, Soap, pigment, varnish 125 x 73 x 45 cm

Detail of 'Venus' 1998

Kuros Series no. 1, 2, 3 & 4 (2010) Soap, pigment, varnish

Detail of Kuros Series no. 2 (2010)

by Melissa Gamwell

25 December 2009

The other week I saw the Stuart Haygarth show titled “Found” at Haunch of Venison. Having only seen one of his chandelier pieces at the re-opening of New Museum in NYC a few years ago, it was great to see his newer furniture projects alongside a collection of his lighting. The furniture is successful by his process, re-purposing meticulously curated collections of found objects, but there is a quality to his lighting that literally and conceptually elevates objects beyond their industrial disposition. The lack of this relationship in the furniture is perhaps because we are already adept to accessing and using objects at these proximities, in these positions. Objects, functional or not, are experienced by being picked up, turned, thrown away, packed, stored, displayed…  Adversely, the chandeliers force us to look up through the lenses and eyeglass frames used in the collection, effectively displacing the viewer and the objects an equidistance from their utilitarian relationship, revealing new emotional typologies.

Cabinet Detail

Cabinet Detail

The lens-frame chandeliers, called urchin lights, are so evocative in their possession of  historical reference, I felt they were the most successful pieces in the show. Displayed in the only darkened room in the gallery, they loom over the  viewer in an unmatched cluster of three, initially ocean-like in their presence. Once under them, they attain more robotic and skeletal qualities. Seeing so many tiny clavicle-like frames is instantly reminiscent of described holocaust remains, personal objects that were indefinitely part of daily life, an enabler, a dis-abler, a by-product. In grouping such an immensity of frames, the objects are considered on levels of dispossession, the sinister suggestion of an object’s ability to persevere beyond the life of its owner. This possibly is an objects greater life, from the time of abandonment to reincarnation.

Urchin Light

Urchin Light

Urchin light detail

Urchin light detail

Urchin light detail

Urchin light detail

Lens Chanelier

Lens Chandelier

Lens Chandelier Detail

Lens Chandelier Detail

Conical Lens Chandelier

Conical Lens Chandelier

Detail from center

Detail from center

Other favorites were the table lamps whose bases were adorned with the obsessive cat and dog collections often thrown to the second-hand shop.

SH_CatDogLamp_vs01

Ceramic Figurine Lamps

Cat Detail

Cat Detail

Bottle Cap Floor Lamps

Bottle Cap Floor Lamps

The Stuart Haygarth show “Found”, will be up at Haunch of Venison, 6 Burlington Gardens
London W1S 3ET, through 30 January.

http://www.haunchofvenison.com

http://www.stuarthaygarth.com/

http://www.newmuseum.org/