Magazine article Artforum International

Lee Minwei: Mori Art Museum

Magazine article Artforum International

Lee Minwei: Mori Art Museum

Article excerpt

"Lee Mingwei and His Relations: The Art of Participation--Seeing, Conversing, Gift-Giving, Writing, Dining and Getting Connected to the World": the ambitious but unwieldy title of this retrospective exhibition spanning twenty years is deliberately multivalent. It extends standard readings of relational aesthetics from a practice based, in part, in Asian philosophies and art, proposing a broad conception of relations embracing family along with artistic companions, and often inviting perfect strangers to participate in intimate social activities--sleeping, dining, mending clothes. Rather than interrogating social structures or interrupting authority, as much European relational art does, Lee gently convenes conversations or confluences of actions that reaffirm connectedness between people, revealing the enriching possibilities of interactions undertaken with generosity and respect.

The gift is at the heart of Lee's practice--he cites anthropologist Marcel Mauss and particularly essayist Lewis Hyde--and this gift giving is an essentially reciprocal process: According to Lee, each participant, donor, and recipient is changed by it. He intends these works to be reparative and harmonious, emphasizing self-awareness and deploying the Buddhist practices of meditation and mindfulness he first encountered as a boy in his native Taiwan. Moving Garden 2009/2014, for instance, originally commissioned for the Bien-nate de Lyon, invites visitors to take a flower and, on leaving the museum, bestow it on a stranger. (My Tokyo taxi driver was baffled but delighted.)

The conceptual strategies of the exhibition are impeccable. Curator M.arni Kataoka weaves together a number of major participatory projects, starting with The Mending Project 2009/2014, a signature work. Visitors bring clothes to be repaired by tailors in the museum, leaving them until the exhibition's end as mute witnesses to dialogues with strangers. (Lee originally trained in textiles; fabrics, with their imageries of affection and affiliation, often feature in his work. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.