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Sense & Sensibility: Anicka Yi's Multisensory Art

Visitors to the Transformer Station’s crane gallery this fall will encounter a weeping woman with a deep-fried floral arrangement for a head, larger-than-life perfume bottles brimming with eyeball-enlarging contact lenses, and paintings made of soap that examine the human body on a molecular level. All of these artworks are part of Anicka Yi’s first solo museum exhibition, hosted by the Cleveland Museum of Art. Yi, whose work has been included in prestigious exhibitions such as the Lyon Biennale and the current Taipei Biennial, joins the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a visiting artist this winter. Yi is one of the leading artists to have emerged within the past decade, creating art that poetically speaks to the experience of everyday life in the 21st century and the things that govern it—whether major corporations like Monsanto or emotions such as those tied to loss. While her art often takes the form of sculpture, it hardly behaves as such, perhaps decomposing before our very eyes or wafting away in the form of a hand-made perfume. Running throughout Yi’s work is a deep interest in all of the senses a human body can experience, not solely the visual—and thus one can generally smell a work by Yi before seeing it in the gallery. Engaging with viewers on an intellectual, emotional, and even sensual level, her work is simultaneously alluring and curious.

At the beginning of last year, Yi embarked on a trilogy of exhibitions centered around the idea of loss. Her exhibition in Cleveland marks the culmination of these efforts, following venues in Berlin and New York.

“A series of exhibitions examining the forensics of loss and separation was conceived in 2013,” Yi has written,“synthesized by three individual chapters in different times and places: three acts in someone’s life, three stages of proceedings, three strikes of a match. Part I, Denial, focused on the dispossession of the truth. Part II, Divorce, [gathered] further evidence of the past tilted toward symbolic laws of displacement.” And now, Part III, Death, ruminates on life flashing before one’s eyes, the flurry of activity before one’s last breath.

For the Cleveland exhibition, Yi presents works that span her career in a unique installation design developed especially for the Transformer Station. Evoking both the sterility associated with death as well as an exotic romanticism,this immersive environment also contains new works that question what it means when an era ends.

Don't miss Anicka Yi: Death, opening alongside Julia Wachtel's exhibition, presented by the Cleveland Museum of Art at Transformer Station beginning Saturday, October 11!

> Learn more about current and upcoming exhibitions

 *Members See It First: This article also appears in the September/October issue of the CMA Member Magazine.

Pictured above: Sister, 2011. Anicka Yi (Korean, b. 1971). Tempura-fried flowers, cotton turtleneck; dimensions variable. Collection Jay Gorney and Tom Heman, New York. Photo: Joerg Lohse.

 

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