The Mori Art Museum Presents LEE MINGWEI AND HIS RELATIONS, 9/20-1/4

The Mori Art Museum Presents LEE MINGWEI AND HIS RELATIONS, 9/20-1/4

Mori Art Museum is pleased to present "Lee Mingwei and His Relations," a solo exhibition of a Taiwan-born, New York-residing artist Lee Mingwei, from Saturday, September 20, 2014 to Sunday, January 4, 2015. This will mark his first large-scale survey exhibition to date.

In the realm of contemporary art, since the late 1990s, artworks and art practices based on audience participation have risen to prominence and expanded globally as "relational aesthetics" and "participatory art." In this trend, Lee Mingwei has worked on numerous art projects that involve the participation of an audience in some form or another, and taken part in a number of international exhibitions. This exhibition will therefore represent a mid-career retrospective of the art practice of Lee Mingwei, enabling us to comprehensively experience his art.

This exhibition will present 14 (planned) works and projects by Lee Mingwei alongside works by various other artists including Hakuin, D.T. Suzuki, John Cage, Yves Klein, Allan Kaprow, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Ozawa Tsuyoshi that will help in understanding their historical
and cultural context, making the viewing
experience more multidimensional and
intellectually fulfilling.

As hinted at by Lee Mingwei himself when he says, "At the opening stage the show will be only around 40 percent complete," during the exhibition the various projects will take on a life of their own as a result of the interaction of members of the audience, changing daily and becoming even more complex and multilayered. How are we connected to the people and the environment around us and, beyond these, to the world and history? We hope this exhibition will provide an opportunity for visitors to think again about relations and connections.

EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS

1. The First Large-Scale Solo Exhibition Incorporating a Comprehensive Survey of Lee Mingwei's Projects

Lee Mingwei, who began attracting attention internationally in the late 1990s, has exhibited widely, including in solo shows and projects at Whitney Museum of American Art (1998), Museum of Modern Art, New York (2003) and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2004) and at international exhibitions such as the 5th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (1999), the 50th Venice Biennale, Taiwan Pavilion (2003), the 10th Lyon Biennale (2009) and the 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012). In Japan, as well as being introduced at such exhibitions as "The Gift of Hope" at Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2000-2001) and "The Elegance of Silence: Contemporary Art from East Asia" at Mori Art Museum (2004), he has presented recent work at Shiseido Gallery (2012) and the Dojima River Biennale (2013). This exhibition "Lee Mignwei and His Relations" is a mid-career retrospective bringing together many of Lee Mingwei's major works from the last 20 years for the first time.

2. Experience Various Types of "Participatory Art"

Lee Mingwei' s participatory artworks come in various types, including those in which anyone can participate in the gallery, those in which participants need to apply in advance, those that only people chosen by ballot can experience and those in which participants play the role of host welcoming visitors on behalf of the artist. Through the audience participating in the various arrangements put in place by the artist, such as offering flowers they have been given in the exhibition to strangers they pass by on the way home, sharing memorable items of clothing along with episodes associated with them or writing the letters they had always meant to but had never taken time for, the artworks take on an incredible vitality. The exhibition will change continuously over 107 days almost as if it had its own life.

3. A Solo Exhibition But with Works by Other Artists Included to Contextualize Lee Mingwei's Body of Works

Although this is a solo exhibition by Lee Mingwei, at the same time it is also a themed exhibition aimed at rethinking two of the keywords that are extremely important to Lee Mingwei' s art practice: "relations" and "connections." The presentation of works by various other artists including Hakuin, D.T. Suzuki, John Cage,Yves Klein, Allan Kaprow, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Ozawa Tsuyoshi as well as of historical works as "reference works" will aid in understanding the historical and cultural contexts that form the backdrop to Lee's practice.

4. Video Commentary by Lee Mingwei Himself Accompanying Selected Projects

Many of Lee Mingwei's works have arisen out of his own personal experiences or memories. For this exhibition, Lee Mingwei himself will appear on video to explain the background to these works (Note that this does not apply to all the works).

Lee Mingwei

Born 1964, in Taichung, Taiwan, and currently living in New York City. Received an M.F.A. in Sculpture from the Graduate School of Fine Arts, Yale University in 1997. Lee Mingwei creates both participatory installations, where strangers can explore issues of trust, intimacy, and self-awareness on their own, and one-on-one events, where visitors explore these issues with the artist himself through eating, sleeping, walking and conversation. Lee's projects are often open-ended scenarios for everyday interaction, and take on different forms depending on the participants. His major solo exhibitions include Whitney Museum of American Art (1998), Museum of Modern Art, New York (2003) and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2004). He has also participated in a number of international exhibitions such as the 50th Venice Biennale, Taiwan Pavilion (2003), the 10th Lyon Biennale (2009), and the 5th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (1999).

General Information

Organizer: Mori Art Museum Co-organizer: Ministry of Culture, Taiwan
In Association with: Taipei Cultural Center, Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan
Curated by: Kataoka Mami (Chief Curator, Mori Art Museum)
Selection of Historical Works by: Hirose Mami (Senior Consultant, Mori Art Museum)
Venue: Mori Art Museum, 53F, Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Open Hours: 10:00-22:00 | Tue: 10:00-22:00 | * Tuesdays of 9/23 and 12/23 open until 22:00
* Admission until 30 minutes before closing.| * Open everyday.
Admissions: General: ¥1,500 / University/highschool student: ¥1,000 / Child (4 years to junior highschool student): ¥500 * All prices include tax. * Ticket also valid for "MAM Project 022: Jacob Kirkegaard" and Tokyo City View observation deck (excludes Sky Deck). * Additional entrance fee to the Sky Deck is required.
Inquiries: +81-(0)3-5777-8600 (Hello Dial)

EXHIBITION OUTLINE

The Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 aroused our awareness of the awesome power of nature and of the fluidity and mutability of the earth and the universe. At the same time, the support given to the affected area from around the world greatly heightened our awareness of the "relations" and "connections" among strangers. The rapidly-spreading social media has also brought about new relations and "connections" via Internet to our daily lives.

In the realm of contemporary art, meanwhile, the concept of "relational aesthetics" put forward in the late 1990s by the French art critic Nicolas Bourriaud contributed to an expansion of the interpretive boundaries of audience-participation projects and installation-type spatial experiences, a trend that has continued in the 2000s and beyond as a distinct, global phenomenon. Bourriaud defines "relational art" as "an art taking as its theoretical horizon the realm of human interactions and its social context, rather than the assertion of an independent and private symbolic space." * He identifies as part of the background to this the urbanization occurring around the world and the new interpersonal relations mediated by the Internet and other forms of multimedia, while also referencing such things as the happenings and performances that proliferated in the 1960s. However, if we broaden

this premise of considering art' s theoretical horizon from the perspective of "the realm of human interactions and its social context" to include traditional Eastern philosophy and pre-modern views of nature, then we can trace this horizon endlessly back in history and space-time. More specifically, we could reference to the Buddhist concept of pratityasamutpada, or dependent origination, according to which all things and events are the result of previous cause-and-effect relationships and karma; the views of life and death common to both Hinduism and Buddhism; and the concept of impermanence and awareness of everyday actions.

Lee Mingwei was born in Taichung, Taiwan in 1964 and currently lives and works in New York. Much of Lee' s practice takes the form of project-type works that encourage audience participation. From the late 1990s to the 2000s he took part in numerous international exhibitions, as a result of which his practice also came to be viewed in the context of relational art. He moved to the U.S. while a teenager, and in the course of his travels all around the world his work has taken on a strong affinity with Eastern philosophy, and in particular, Zen Buddhism. While based on the understanding that human existence is rooted in our universal relationship with the world at large, Lee' s practice also reflects a strong awareness of everyday actions and personal relationships between individuals. By attempting to interpret its essence from the wider viewpoints of trust, gifts, impermanence and mutability, we hope to bring it into sharper focus.

This exhibition is at once a mid-career retrospective of Lee Mingwei and a themed exhibition aimed at rethinking the various "connections" and "relations" that can be seen in his art practice. In an attempt to contextualize this practice historically, socially and culturally, in the "reference works" section we will present works by such artists as Hakuin, D.T. Suzuki, John Cage, Yves Klein, Allan Kaprow, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Ozawa Tsuyoshi. As well, reference photographs including photographs of his grandparents, who studied in Japan, will be exhibited to encourage visitors to consider the relationship between Japan and Taiwan through Lee' s personal connections, and also to evoke personal memories.

At the same time, the projects by Lee Mingwei will take a variety of forms, from those that anyone visiting the venue can participate in, to those in which participants need to apply in advance, those that only people chosen by ballot can participate in, and those in which participants play the role of host welcoming visitors on behalf of the artist. At first glance the conceptual framework of these projects appears simple, but by evoking people' s actual memories and connections, each project will take on a clear life of its own and evolve in an extremely complex, multilayered fashion for the duration of the exhibition.

* Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics, les presses du reel, 1998 (for English translation 2002), p.14.

Photo Credit: Anita Kan

The Mending Project 2009
Installation view: "The Mending Project," Lombard-Freid Gallery, NewYork, 2009 Collection: Rudy Tseng

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