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Closing Soon: Jason S. Yi: A Fragile Permanence
Closing Soon: Jason S. Yi: A Fragile Permanence
At the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
August 23 – November 9, 2014
MADISON, WI – There are just a couple weeks remaining to view a site-specific installation by Jason S. Yi at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA). Jason S. Yi: A Fragile Permanence, the artist’s first solo museum exhibition, has transformed the State Street Gallery into a dynamic work of art. Experience this ephemeral installation before it is deconstructed November 10.
Jason S. Yi: A Fragile Permanence draws on phenomenology, contemporary installation, and the art historical tradition of landscape painting. From the spiritual significance of East Asian mountain peaks to the rugged sublimity of the American West, Yi taps into cultural mythologies of landscape as a point of departure to address visual perception, physical experience, and cognitive uncertainty.
There has been a high degree of public interest in this exhibition. During the entire three-week installation period, from August 4 through August 21, the artist engaged museum passersby and visitors, who were invited into the gallery while he was at work. This openness created a dialogue between the artist and the public, extended by videos of the artist’s process on the museum website.
Jason S. Yi is known for his remarkable ability to transform utilitarian materials into awe-inspiring installations that resemble mountains and other tectonic landforms. He has exhibited nationally and internationally in places such as New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, Japan, China, South Korea, Vietnam, Italy, and Austria. MMoCA has long been an enthusiastic supporter of Yi’s work: his installations have been included in numerous Wisconsin Triennial exhibitions, and his iconic sculpture made from PVC tubing and connectors, Legend of the White Snake, was installed for two years in the museum’s rooftop sculpture garden.
For the exhibition, Yi built a massive three-dimensional structure spanning the length the museum’s State Street Gallery. From a distance it looks like a mountainous, snow-covered landform emerging from the floor. As visitors approach the imposing sculpture, its humble materials and seemingly unstable construction become increasingly apparent. With an internal network of wooden slats haphazardly nailed together and vertical strips of white Duct Tape overlaying the surface, this regal monolith, white and pristine from afar, gradually morphs into an odd jumble of everyday materials.
The exhibition also includes a series of extensive line “drawings” made with highly-reflective, metallic tape. Angled and geometric, the tape wends a jagged path across the surrounding walls and windows, even extending onto the gallery floor to interrupt the path of visitors. The tape’s mirror-like surface offers viewers a distorted image of their own reflection, prompting a heightened awareness of one’s physical presence within the space. By refracting light the shimmering drawing, though static, creates an environment that appears to be in a constant state of flux. Yi pushes the scope of his project beyond the gallery, moving onto the lobby’s prominent front wall. Again, he presents a series of artworks that hint at natural geologies while seeming to defy earth’s material constraints. A large silver sculpture creates tension by appearing impossibly heavy yet resting easily on top of a thin, wall-mounted shelf.
From the rigorously erected yet rickety wooden structure, to the immobile but ever-evolving drawing, and to the anti-gravitational mass of the lobby sculpture, the physical contradictions embodied by each of the altered materials elicit a momentary disconnect between perception and cognition. Mistaking appearance for reality, our confidence in the world around us becomes destabilized.
Jason S. Yi: A Fragile Permanence demonstrates the artist’s remarkable ability to transform materials and their surrounding architecture into an enveloping perceptual experience. On a deeper level, however, the exhibition interrogates the ambiguous domain of cultural identity. Yi and his family immigrated to the United States from South Korea when he was eleven years old. Growing up in a culturally Asian household on American soil made Yi acutely aware of the complexities surrounding place and identity. The simultaneous push toward American acculturation and nostalgic pull of his Korean heritage culminates in an unresolved tension, placing Yi in space of cultural displacement or in-betweeness.
Generous funding for Jason S. Yi: A Fragile Permanence has been provided by Perkins Coie, LLP; BioSentinel, INC.; MillerCoors; the Terry Family Foundation; Identi-Tape Inc.; a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and National Endowment for the Arts; and MMoCA Volunteers.
Hours at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art are Tuesday–Thursday (noon–5 pm); Friday (noon–8 pm); Saturday (10 am–8 pm); and Sunday (noon–5 pm). The museum is closed on Mondays.
Admission to exhibitions at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is free of charge. MMoCA is supported through memberships and through generous contributions and grants from individuals, corporations, agencies, and foundations. Important support is also generated through auxiliary group programs; special events; rental of the museum’s lobby, lecture hall, and rooftop garden; and sales through the Museum Store.
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