‘Home’ is a concept that many of us can relate to. Bringing forth memories of comfort and at other times, distress, this complex dichotomy is the focus of Singaporean artist Michael Lee’s solo exhibition Machine for
Living Dying In, on view from 16 August to 21 September at Yavuz Fine Art.
The subject of ‘home’ is a recurrent theme in Lee’s on-going exploration of the relationship between urban memory and fiction. Challenging the conception of the home as a place of comfort and safety, Lee explores “the gap between home as we have been told, and home as we experience it.”
The exhibition features 5 new works and a recent piece in a various media, including collages, installations and a video work. The show’s title piece, Machine for
Living Dying In (2014) is a neon text work that captures the artist’s preference for ambiguity and complexity. In his text, Lee allows two similar yet opposing statements – “A house is a machine for living in,” by Swiss-born architect Le Corbusier (1923), and “A house is for dying,” by American architecture professor Douglas Darden (1993) – to coexist. This not only exemplifies the ambiguous associations towards the home we may have, but also acknowledges life and death as aspects of the same process. After all, to live is to endure the prospect of encountering death at any turn.
Working along a similar tangent, “Hazards” (2014) is a series of collages that reflect the reality that there is really no absolutely safe place or activity, not even staying put at one home. One collage on view is skull mask created by folding and cutting a found print of Diego Velasquez’s Las Meninas (1656). Gone Solo (2013) is a 14-minute pure-text mute video that puts together 45 cases of people who died alone. Triggered by a 2012 news report of the death of his army friend, Lee presents solitude and death as aspects of reality that often arouse pity or disgust, but are difficult to pass final judgment upon.
Also featured in the exhibition are two material- and site-specific installations that integrate Lee’s focus of ‘home’ into the physical space of the gallery. Allowing material to offer instructions is a method Lee has developed over the years, one partly inspired by Louis Khan’s listening to a brick and hearing it say, “I like [to be] an arch.” The installation Script for Unperformed Performance No. 1 (2014) consists of a found hammock tied to two gallery columns and text that is suggestive of how one might use and interact with the object. The work responds to both material and the architectural demands of the gallery, and through the text’s content and placement, asks viewers to respond to both as well. A second installation, Diagonals (2014) comprises abstract forms on curtains that will grace the gallery passageways. A symbolic warning sign, the work blurs the line between art and function, pushing the viewer to question whether what they are seeing is purely a piece of artwork or an indication of impending danger.
There is much to experience in Machine for
Living Dying In. By putting a new twist on a subject that we may have thought ourselves familiar with, Michael Lee gives viewers a lot to take home.
Exhibition: Machine for
Living Dying In
Dates: 16 August – 21 September 2014
Opening: Friday, 15 August 2014, 7 – 9pm
Tour: Exhibition Tour with Michael Lee: Saturday, 16 Aug 2014, 2 – 4pm, To RSVP for the Exhibition Tour, please email Irene Fung at email@example.com
Venue: Yavuz Fine Art, 51 Waterloo Street, #03-01, Singapore 187969