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Lee Bul: Phantasmic Morphologies
by Michaël Amy


Who we are is determined to a considerable extent by what we are. The what includes our origins in time and place, gender, race, social status, sexual orientation, education, and political and religious convictions. Once we have this information, we believe that we know enough about a person to be able to classify and judge him or her. We have a tendency to embrace stereotypical thinking.

The South Korean artist Lee Bul moves away from what we know—or what we think we know. Her work examines how the mind functions by exploring some of its dreams, ideals, and utopias. Interviews with Lee over the years have shown her to be a highly sophisticated and articulate thinker, with a wide range of interests in the history of ideas, the cultures of both East and West, and science and technology. Her work argues that everything is in a state of flux, that many of the notions we accept as laws are often the product of bias and can—therefore—be corrected, and that the imagination constitutes an all-conquering power. Surrealism is an important source for Lee’s ideas and images. She understands imagination’s ties to cognition and knows from firsthand experience how it can free one from physical and ideological bonds, thus becoming of critical importance to survival.

Thaw, 2007.
Fiberglass, resin, acrylic paint, black crystals, and mixed media, 93 x 113 x 212 cm.

Photo: Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, NY.

 


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