Mire Lee at Lily Robert

Mire Lee

words were never enough

Lily Robert, Paris

September 25–October 30, 2000

All Photography by Maurine Tric

“The gut is sometimes angry, sometimes depressed, sometimes acutely self-destructive; under the stress of severe dieting, these inclinations come to dominate the gut’s responsivity to the world. At these moments any radical distinction between stomach and mood, between vomiting and rage is artificial. Here, a clear indication of what is meant by radical (pertaining to the root: foundational, essential, originary, primary) is important. I am not arguing that organs are indistinguishable from one another, or that psyche and soma are the same thing. Rather, I am claiming that there is no a priori, fundamental demarcation between these entities. [. . .] I am arguing that antidepressants alleviate bulimia because there is no radical (originary) distinction between biology and mood. Mood is not added onto the gut, secondarily, disrupting its proper function; rather, temper, like digestion, is one of the events to which enteric substrata are naturally (originally) inclined.”

Elizabeth A. Wilson, “Gut Feminism”, differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies (Vol. 15, Issue 3), Duke University Press, 2004, pp. 20–21.

From nascent stages Mire Lee has tested the limits of materials and mechanization, developing an alternative medium that escapes the standards of traditional sculpture. Her practice enters a realm in which the repetition of actions performed by machines paradoxically refuses to generate the same results, reflecting the artist’s conflicted domination-submission relationship with her materials which include PVC hoses, silicone, lubricants, grease and steel rods. Often employing minimal technologies such as electric motors and pumps, her hypnotic creations manifest in a deluge of constricted, mesmerizing convulsions packed with dread and anticipation. Viscous, impulsive and violent, Lee’s apparatuses simulate raw and unruly effects, triggering responses that delude the barriers between nausea and arousal.

Mire Lee (1988, Seoul) lives and works between Seoul and Amsterdam. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Art Sonje Center, Seoul (2020); Casco Art Institute, Utrecht (2019) and Insa Art Space, Seoul (2014). She has been featured in group exhibitions at Gianni Manhattan, Vienna (2020); Friesmuseum, Leeuwarden (2020); Tunnel Tunnel, Lausanne (2019); the 15th Biennale de Lyon, Lyon (2019); Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah (2019); AKINCI, Amsterdam (2019); the 12th Gwangju Biennale (2018) and Arko Arts Center, Seoul (2018). She has participated in residencies at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, Amsterdam (2018); Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA Nanji Residency) (2017) and Cité internationale des arts, Paris (2015). Lee earned a bachelor’s degree from the Department of Sculpture at the Seoul National University College of Fine Arts (2012) and a graduate degree in media art from the same institution (2013). She has recently been shortlisted for the Future Generation Art Prize, winner to be announced 2021.