The Sea Wall: Haegue Yang with an inclusion by Felix Gonzalez-Torres

The Sea Wall: Haegue Yang with an inclusion by Felix Gonzalez-Torres


Haegue Yang, “VIP’s Union,” 2001.
Design commissioned for the VIP Lounge at Art Forum Berlin consisting of borrowed chairs and tables, 2001.
Photo: Haegue Yang, courtesy of the artist.

July 19, 2011

The Sea Wall
Haegue Yang with an inclusion by Felix Gonzalez-Torres
16 July–4 September 2011

16 Narrow Quay, Bristol, BS1 4QA, U.K
0044 (0) 117 917 2300
info [​at​]

The Sea Wall facilitates a conversation between the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Haegue Yang. Their practices’ talk of human relationships through the formation of abstract artworks, reflecting on such notions as, intimacy and activism, private and public, as well as place and people. Together, the works of these artists from different generations balance poetics and politics; they are emotionally charged, often through emphasizing the material qualities of domestic objects.

Gonzalez-Torres believed that power could be created by politicising aesthetic beauty, providing it with a new sense of purpose. This kind of ‘reinvestment’ in aesthetic languages can also be found in the work of Yang, who has inherited much from his particular ‘post-minimal’ approach, particularly towards her interest in narrative and abstraction. Combining ideas and practices that are informed by both post-structural theory and feminist discourses, Yang’s works are emotionally charged, often with a sense of fragility or vulnerability, which through this conversation, seeks to offer a necessary level of complexity to today’s discourses around identity politics. Of particular significance here will be the notion of ‘community’—fragile, invisible or temporary community—an integral subject in the work of these artists.

Gonzalez-Torres’ work “Untitled” (Water), 1995, an iridescent blue beaded curtain, is presented throughout the exhibition spaces, in entranceways and creating transitional spaces. This work is returning to Arnolfini, having been previously exhibited here a decade ago, this time presenting this type of work by the artist in this expanded, multi-locational form for the first time. The artist said he wanted to leave a viewer with “something else, non-artistic yet beautifully simple.” In dialogue with this will be an atypical selection of works by Yang from the last ten years, including early formative works, focused on building a parallel relationship to Gonzalez-Torres.

The exhibition has been titled after the novel The Sea Wall by writer Marguerite Duras, which depicts her family life growing up in colonial-era French Indochina during the 1930s. Her mother buys a plot of land to live from after the death of her husband, which is flooded by the sea every year, ruining the harvest. The mother is a disadvantaged person affected by the injustice of colonial authorities, serving as a metaphor for an isolated yet tireless figure. Yang has long been interested in the life and work of Duras and has made numerous works that take her as the subject. There is a season of Marguerite Duras films to accompany the exhibition, opening with Hiroshima Mon Amour on 23 July.

A text by Liam Gillick has been commissioned to accompany the exhibition.

Exhibition curated by Nav Haq, Exhibitions Curator, Arnolfini

Exhibition Talks and Events

Talk: TJ Demos
Saturday 16 July 2pm, Free
Writer TJ Demos will give a response to the exhibition, coupled with his observations on the practice of Gonzalez-Torres and its aesthetic and political significance for today’s context.

Screening: Haegue Yang – Video Works
Sunday 17 July 11am–6pm, Free
A day-long screening event presenting Haegue Yang’s video works.

Exhibition Tour
Saturday 30 July 2pm, Free
Nav Haq, Exhibitions Curator, Arnolfini.
Individual or group exhibition tours are also available during weekdays.

The Apparatus is a year-long project running throughout 2011, to mark Arnolfini’s 50th anniversary. This series of exhibitions and events will focus on the conditions of the art world today, particularly its systems of belief and valuation, its role within society, and its relationship to the wider political economy. The Apparatus is about the ‘makings of’ artists, of artworks, of institutions, and of a cultural infrastructure.

The Sea Wall: Haegue Yang with an inclusion by Felix Gonzalez-Torres
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July 19, 2011

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