Tuesday 1 November 2016
The intricacies and importance of human interaction are celebrated in Lee Mingwei and His Relations: The Art of Participation which opens this Saturday 5 November at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.
Through the installations of Paris-and New York-based artist Lee Mingwei, visitors to this powerful exhibition are invited to slow down, engage and converse – to create new memories or recall old ones.
Visitors can write a letter, offering previously unexpressed gratitude, forgiveness or an apology, in The Letter Writing Project (1998–present), or bring in a garment to be repaired while engaging in conversation with the mender in The Mending Project (2009–present).
Auckland Art Gallery Director Rhana Devenport says this exhibition provides the first opportunity in Australasia to experience these participatory artworks within a single exhibition.
‘Although the form of audience involvement varies across the different artworks, all visitors are invited to participate as much as possible,’ she says.
In a first for Auckland Art Gallery, visitors can enter a ballot to spend a night in the Gallery while participating in The Sleeping Project (2000–present).
Guests will sleep soundly surrounded by further artworks alluding to sleeping and the night by celebrated artists such as Colin McCahon, Dane Mitchell, Fatu Feu’u, John Webber and William Blake.
The art of gift giving and gratitude is also celebrated in this exhibition with Sonic Blossom (2013–present) in which singers approach people at random in the Gallery and offer them a gift of song. If the visitor accepts, the singer then leads them to the Mackelvie Gallery and sings to them a Lied (art song) by 19th-century composer Schubert.
Alongside further projects, including 100 Days with Lily (1995), Nu Wa Project (2005), and Stone Journey (2009), selected relational artworks provide an artistic and philosophical context to Lee Mingwei’s practice. These include works by and references to artists Hakuin, John Cage, Allan Kaprow, Yves Klein, D T Suzuki and Lee Ufan. Together they act as touch points to the ideologies and sensibilities that inform Lee Mingwei’s intimate way of working.
The exhibition is organised by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, with Curator Mami Kataoka, Chief Curator of Mori Art Museum, Tokyo. It was previously presented at Mori Art Museum and the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in Taiwan.
Mami Kataoka says Lee Mingwei’s works allow the unconscious everyday rituals of each person to become a source of radiance and light.
‘The sensations, consciousness and memories evoked by visitors’ experiences in Lee’s exhibition will help them to form a new layer of immaterial value,’ she says.
Kataoka, a former Walters Prize Judge in 2012, was recently announced as the Artistic Director of the 21st Biennale of Sydney to be held in 2018. She is the first curator from Asia to be appointed to the position.
Lee Mingwei and His Relations: The Art of Participation is the first large-scale retrospective survey of the artist’s practice to be presented in Australasia and the first time his work will be experienced in Auckland. It is open daily until Sunday 19 March 2017, except Christmas Day.