Aluminum Venetian blinds, aluminum hanging structure, powder coating, steel wire, moving spotlights, scent emitters (Sulfurous VolcanoMountain MistEarth, RainforestCedarwoodOceanFresh Cut GrassTamboti Wood) *

420 x 2045 x 2123 cm

* The scents of Sulfurous Volcano and Earth have been replaced by Campfire and Oudh since 2015

Courtesy of Kukje Gallery, Seoul

Installation view of Shooting the Elephant 象 Thinking the Elephant, Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea, 2015
Photo: ⓒ Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art

Installation view of Arrivals, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz, Austria, 2011
Photo: Markus Tretter

Made from 192 sets of blinds, Cittadella has a considerable footprint. The accumulated blinds produce a sense of seeing something from afar, naturally inducing viewers to enter Cittadella’s interior as they move around, seeking to get a firmer grasp on the space. Consisting of metallic, silver blinds, the work forms a quasi-rectangular fortress with towers rising from inside and out. The ‘towers’, whose light and shadows change based on the angle at which they are seen, call attention to the height of ceiling and create pagoda-like spaces out of their surroundings. While ‘citadel’ derives from the term for ‘small town,’ it also acts as a fortress that bars unwelcome guests, playing the role of a fence for its citizens and thus strengthening their sense of solidarity. As Jean Luc Nancy (1940-) said, this kind of fence can serve to exclude the Others who do not fit within a community, reaffirming a consensus based on exclusivity. Yang uses the medium of the blinds as a sculptural methodology for challenging this sense of exclusive community. Most of the blinds that make up Cittadella hang down in layers around chest-height; not only do they disrupt our field of vision, they prevent our advancement in certain directions and limit our path through the space. They do not, however, fully block our line of sight all at once. The smells emitted by the scent diffusers hanging from the ceiling, too, permeate the blinds. From outside the structure of Cittadella one cannot clearly see through the densely-layered blinds; walking into the sculpture, it is easy to lose track of one’s body and field of vision. This journey of voluntarily moving one’s body into the sculpture’s interior ultimately becomes an exercise in which the obstructing walls of Cittadella reveal themselves as thin and one’s line of sight opens up. As is usually the case with blinds, when the exterior is illuminated one can see out from inside, but not in from the outside. That is, one only needs to enter Cittadella to see out through its walls. Following our natural desire to penetrate the sculpture’s barriers, we gain a view of the sculpture from the opposite perspective. Six moving lights installed outside Cittadella roam around as if searching for an entrance, casting slowly-moving shadows. The illumination of the moving lights, dispersed through prism filters and rotating continuously, swims through the space mysteriously like rays of light passing through water, waves, or clouds. Eight small, motion-activated scent emitters spray artificial fragrances reminiscent of campfire, the rainforest, the ocean, and so on, calling to mind different spatiotemporal experiences. Due to the physical properties of the blinds, which can be permeated by light and air, the scents reconfigure the space in an invisible, non-physical way. Meanwhile, the patterns of beams and shadows produced by the moving lights lightly traverse and compound the divisions created by the scents and the translucent walls.

(Shooting the Elephant 象Thinking the Elephant Exhibition Catalogue, Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea, 2015)

Exhibition history

Tightrope Walking and Its Wordless Shadow, La Triennale di Milano, Italy, 2018

Shooting the Elephant 象Thinking the Elephant, Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea, 2015

Arrivals, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz, Austria, 2011

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