Symmetric Inequality
December 18, 2008 - April 19, 2009
Sala Rekalde, Bilbao, Spain

Installation view of Symmetric Inequality, Sala Rekalde, Bilbao, 2009
Photo: Begoña Zubero

Symmetric Inequality

sala rekalde presents Symmetric Inequality the first solo exhibition in Spain by the Korean, Berlin-based artist Haegue Yang. The show comprises a new site-specific installation consisting of three distinct zones that together conform a complex spatial configuration. The work belongs to a group of installations the artist has been developing over the course of this year, focusing her interest on investigating new possibilities for parallel crossings between abstraction and narration.

Together with Kunstverein (Hamburg), Cubitt (London), the Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburg), Portikus (Frankfurt) and REDCAT (Los Angeles), sala rekalde now contributes to the closure of a serial project that has taken the medium of portraiture as the point of departure for its own articulation.

Symmetric Inequality continues a process of experimentation based on the artist's personal use of the portrait-like study within abstract terms, firstly to open this format to a more allegorical space for representing subjectivity, secondly to investigate the political implications embedded within hidden fragments of personal memories and, lately, as a possible platform for self-recognition.

The installation Symmetric Inequality now opening at sala rekalde consists of a new configuration of elements normally used by the artist such as Venetian blinds, mirrors, and a set of diverse sensorial devices like scent emitters, industrial air ventilators, infrared heaters, light beams and sound sources. The materials, consciously spread out into a certain choreographic disposition, end up dividing the exhibition space into three distinct areas. Following similar strategies developed within the exhibition at REDCAT, the installation at sala rekalde is configured as its own reverse image. In that sense, the first zone is built up of a structural disposition reminiscent of the REDCAT installation. The specific arrangement of different groups of Venetian blinds seem to replicate a method learned from a previous assemblage that is now confirmed as a sophisticated coded system of communication. The red light beams that penetrate these assemblies end up inundating the whole spatial area with the same feeling of warm melancholy. References to Marguerite Duras's childhood, as for example her own vital experiences of community segregation, inspired the artist to think of these structures and groupings.

The zone that follows is configured out of the combination of two colours, black and white. Two distinguishing lines of black blinds cross each other, fragmenting the space into undetermined areas of inside or outside. A pair of strong white light beams washes this abrupt crossing, while six different scent emitters introduce some sensorial clues for navigating this antagonistic topography. Ideas distilled from Duras's writings about body politics and the war become residual sensory traces in this unequal space.

Finally, in the last zone the visitor encounters sensations that are more diffuse. Composed of different units of colourful blinds and mirrors, these ensembles of materials are located in one of the far corners of the exhibition space. On the opposite side, an open microphone waits to be used. This is a space that Haegue proposes for temporary activation by the visitor, another way of stimulating unforeseen encounters between subjectivities.

In collaboration with REDCAT, sala rekalde is publishing an extensive two volume catalogue. The first volume documents the installation Asymmetric Equality produced at REDCAT, and includes texts by curator and REDCAT director Clara Kim, the German philosopher Marcus Steinweg, the curator of the educational program of the New Museum of New York Eungie Joo and the curator of the Walker Art Center Doryun Chong. The second volume documents the installation Symmetrical Inequality in sala rekalde and includes texts by Max Andrews, art critic and co-director of the curatorial project Latitudes, Jie-Hyun Lim, director of the Institute of Research in History and Comparative Culture of the University of Hanyang, and a conversation between Melanie Ohnemus, curator of Portikus, Bart van der Heide, curator of Cubitt, Pablo Lafuente, critic and editor of the journal Afterall, London/ Los Angeles, Asier Mendizábal, artist, Leire Vergara, curator of sala rekalde and Haegue Yang. The photographs of the installation are by Begoña Zubero. Both volumes have been designed by Gail Swanlund, Katie Hanburger and Jon Sueda de Stripe from Los Angeles.

Press release, Sala Rekalde, 2009

Exhibited works

Series of Vulnerable Arrangements – Shadowless Voice over Three, 2008