Over the last five years, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland-based artist Yona Lee has become recognised for creating elaborate linear steel structures that are meticulously folded, bent or welded to respond to different spaces. These site-specific installations have increasingly incorporated everyday objects within them as if the flotsam and jetsam of discarded consumer products have become tangled in a metallic fishnet. Lee’s upcoming exhibition In Transit (Arrival) will be her largest and most ambitious installations to date.
This major Te Tuhi commission, explores the structure and pulse of civilisation through a vast entangled structure made of stainless steel tube commonly used as barriers and handrails in train stations and airports around the world. This is the same railing that fences off sections of Seoul Metro stations, the tubing that rotates in the turnstiles as you enter the New York subway, the pole that you grasp as the Tube hurtles beneath London, or the bars that hold your bag in place on the Shinkansen as you depart Tokyo. The ingenious simple design of this system makes it easy to install and easily adapted for purpose, and is the means through which bodies can be corralled in efficient uniformity.
Interwoven throughout the structure will be a miscellany of everyday objects ranging from coat hangers to bus handles and from street signs to umbrellas. Through this elaborate construction, Lee provides an intriguing framework to consider the objects that surround us, the infrastructures that mobilise and the systems that control.
In Transit (Arrival) developed out of a residency supported by the Asia New Zealand Foundation/Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa.
About Yona Lee
Yona Lee lives and works in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland and holds an MFA from Elam School of Fine Arts, 2010. In 2016, Lee has undertaken two residencies consecutively in Seoul at SeMA Nanji, supported by Asia New Zealand Foundation/Creative New Zealand Foundation, and at Geumcheon Art Space. Recent solo exhibitions include In Transit, Alternative Space LOOP, Seoul, 2016; Line on display, West Space, Melbourne, 2016; Triptych, Rear Window, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Dunedin, 2015; Specific Objects, Blue Oyster Art Project Space, Dunedin, 2014; Tangential Structures, Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Wellington, 2013. Recent group exhibitions include Korea Tomorrow, Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul, 2016; We create things, things create us, Changwon Sculpture Biennnale, Changwon, 2016; Meeting in two circles, SeMA Nanji Hall, Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul, 2016.
Praise for In Transit (Arrival)
‘In Transit (Arrival) is a thought-provoking and ambitious project that reflects the confidence of Te Tuhi as one of the leading art spaces in New Zealand. The site-specific design integrated with all parts of the gallery creating a greater awareness of the exhibition amongst the diverse audiences of the gallery. The exhibition also demonstrates the curatorial strength of Te Tuhi and in particular the forward-thinking of curator Bruce E. Phillips.’
– Judges' statement for In Transit (Arrival), Finalist in the 2018 Museums Aotearoa Exhibition Excellence Art category
In Transit (Arrival) – Exhibition Guide
States of Entanglement in the Artwork of Yona Lee – Bruce E. Phillips
Spatial Discomfort – The Big Idea
Railing against uniformity – The New Zealand Herald
Artbank interview – 95bfm
Crossing Barriers – EyeContact
Seoul Searching Inspires – Stuff
음악을 형상화하는 설치 미술가 – YTN
Always In Transit: A conversation with Yona Lee – Contemporary HUM
Final boarding call: Yona Lee's In Transit – The Spinoff
Publication – Yona Lee: In Transit (Arrival), 2017
Edition – Relic from In Transit (Arrival), 2018