See South Korean Rising Star Mire Lee’s Gutsy Debut of Squelching Kinetic Sculptures at the New Museum

The artist's profile has been rising since she unveiled a memorable monumental installation at the Venice Biennale.

Exhibition view of “Mire Lee: Black Sun” at the New Museum until September 17, 2023. Photo: Dario Lasagni, courtesy New Museum.

The South Korean artist Mire Lee has been made a name for herself in recent years due to her penchant for making audiences squirm. At the Venice Biennale last year, she appeared in the main exhibition with Endless House: Holes and Drips (2022), a monumental installation in which ceramics in the shape of entangled entrails were strewn across a frame of scaffolding and routinely doused in a thick red glaze. The work was strangely gory and, whether viewers liked it or not, they couldn’t look away.

The Seoul-born, Amsterdam-based 34-year-old has now opened her first institutional solo show in the U.S. at the New Museum in Manhattan. With walls made of torn fabric drenched in liquid clay and the air thickened by a steam machine, she has turned the 4th floor gallery into a dank, mud-colored stage for a series of new kinetic sculptures. These strange contraptions blend mechanical elements—pumps, motors, steel rods, and hoses—with fabric and cement forms that appear messily organic but are somehow too bizarre to not be manmade.

In one annexed corner, a crudely formed fountain flows with murky water that is pumped in at the side before swirling around a cement basin and draining away. Suspended from the ceiling is a grotesque bundle of bulging masses held together with ropes in a style vaguely reminiscent of shibari. Together, these rattling, animatronic beings create an unsettling, ever-changing immersive realm. Visitors are invited to have peculiar, bodily experience, that is, if they can stomach it.

Check out views of the exhibition below.

Exhibition view of “Mire Lee: Black Sun” at the New Museum until September 17, 2023. Photo: Dario Lasagni, courtesy New Museum.

Exhibition view of “Mire Lee: Black Sun” at the New Museum until September 17, 2023. Photo: Dario Lasagni, courtesy New Museum.

Exhibition view of “Mire Lee: Black Sun” at the New Museum until September 17, 2023. Photo: Dario Lasagni, courtesy New Museum.

Exhibition view of “Mire Lee: Black Sun” at the New Museum until September 17, 2023. Photo: Dario Lasagni, courtesy New Museum.

Exhibition view of “Mire Lee: Black Sun” at the New Museum until September 17, 2023. Photo: Dario Lasagni, courtesy New Museum.

Exhibition view of “Mire Lee: Black Sun” at the New Museum until September 17, 2023. Photo: Dario Lasagni, courtesy New Museum.

Mire Lee: Black Sun” is on view at the New Museum, 235 Bowery, New York, through September 17.


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