East Contemporary

Artsonje: Lee Kit “Resonance Of A Sad Smile”

Seoul, March 1 – April 28, 2019, http://artsonje.org

Some time has passed since the last Lee Kit show I saw. And I was very much looking forward to this one. Will I get a similar feeling like when I saw his work for the first time? Will I feel connected because his work will be the same as it was in the past? Or will I feel disappointed for the same reason? Will his work be different? I was full of anticipation.

The two floors of the Artsonje art center appeared rather empty at first sight, “Lee Kit empty” one could say. After walking around, the space slowly filled up with my own emotions. Video works were the main component of the show. This was probably a change to earlier work, where simple material objects were more prominent. The material base was still present in the form of empty canvases, boards and paper sheets propped against the wall that served as a partial background (together with the white walls) for the video projections. Furthermore, a number of video projections were filtered through transparent plastic boxes used for storage in many homes. These plastic boxes resonated with the earlier use of plastic household items in Lee Kit’s work.

The videos themselves were blurry and in light pastel colors, in numerous cases only static images subtitled with short texts that read like poems about the everyday, loss, loneliness but also happiness. It was as if the sentiments conveyed through daily household items and textile materials in previous work now were detached from their material background, transformed into pure light, sound and poetry.

I feel Lee Kit thought a lot about these new works. They appear very measured. On one hand he stayed true to his “earlier self”. At the same time he moved on. The early work with hand-painted and daily-used textiles stressed a certain connection and togetherness. This feeling of intimacy was further on transposed onto everyday consumer objects. Now I could sense a stronger detachment from all of these objects and relationships. Instead of being the person connected to these objects, Lee Kit became more of an observer and commentator of what he sees and experiences. One example would be one work on the third floor where he places a projection of a blurred window next to the blurred window itself. Or the works using found film footage. Sometimes his observations may relate to him, sometimes not. He slowly disappears from within his artwork and withdraws. This allows for short moments when he expresses something in ironical or humorous ways.

On each floor the projections were silent, yet interrupted by one work with an occasionally appearing soundtrack. These soundtracks were short sound samples of guitar music with an uplifting feeling. It was as if he would be saying, no matter what emotions I/you have right now, no matter what relation (to persons or objects), no matter if you are alone or amongst friends, all of this are fleeting moments that will pass in a similar way at the shadows thrown by the sun through window curtains into a room (featured in multiple works) do. There will be moments of happiness and sadness to come. A certain feeling of loneliness will stay. Life is to be cherished and enjoyed for the present moment, while being aware that it is not only the here and now that counts, but the up and downs that, when summed up, actually constitute life itself.

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