Please note: The exhibition will run from 3rd to 31st May 2018. The immersive gloves installation will be open to the public on weekdays between 10am and 4pm.
A: Sunny Art Centre, 30 Gray's Inn Rd., WC1X 8HR, London
The past 12 months have seen a series of activities and exhibitions taking place from London to Beijing for the 2017 edition of the Sunny Art Prize. The ‘Jeongkeun Lee – Final Ritual’ exhibition will bring the international shows to an end back in London where they began, while also inaugurating the beginning of the 2018 edition.
Jeongkeun Lee, winner of the Sunny Art Prize 2017, is a photographer who primarily works with staged landscapes and environments in the form of installations then reproduced and re-contextualises them through the photographic medium. His ‘Despaysement’ and ‘Personal Ritual’ series attract positive feedback for their ability to bridge such staged counter-realities and the real world. He does this by exploiting photography as a tool to conjure parallel worlds impregnated with ritualistic symbolism, using photography as a mediator between spaces, people and objects.
This project will see the culmination of his ‘Personal Ritual’ series with a selection of photographs as well as a new site-specific installation that will complement the exhibits. The idea of ritual, around which the exhibition is focused, is being materialised through the employment of water-filled plastic gloves. These are commonly used in street markets in South Korea as a means of preventing bug infestations. They function as scarecrows as, by refracting light (through the water inside the translucent plastic glove), they are believed to keep bugs away. Even if chemicals and other prevention systems are now available, faith in these icon-like objects and in the power of their effectiveness still survives in people’s minds.
Jeongkeun Lee appropriates this idea of a fixed icon which, through its repetitive use (as in the case of the plastic gloves), tends to assume fixed meanings and purposes. Displacing these gloves to different settings (other than the original street market) proves not to alter their superstitious meaning at all. The icon retains its ability to be perceived as a protective entity fed by people’s hopes, or as a superstitious nonsense.
As the icon is relocated within the space of the art gallery in the form of an installation, Jeongkeun questions the idea of the gallery as a protective environment for art. Artworks start to assume a talisman-like quality that draws people to consume them in the form of a ritual. Therefore, this exhibition is the ‘Final Ritual’ of this series where the artist questions the idea of cultural consumption. As visual appetite is galvanised by art institutions, Jeongkeun reflects on the visitor in need of comfort from everyday life through the spectacle and counter-reality offered by installation art in the form of a religious ritual.