Lee Mingwei

Lee Mingwei

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery

Lee Mingwei
The Living Room Project (2000 – 2008)
Photo: Bryan James

December 18, 2008

Lee Mingwei
Uncommon Senses
Curator: Rhana Devenport
6 December 2008 – 16 March 2009

Queen St
New Plymouth 4342
Aotearoa New Zealand


For over a decade, Lee Mingwei has played a pivotal role in expanding the terrain of what might be called ‘invitational aesthetics’ wherein participation, conversation and the relationships that form through his projects exist as their heart and momentum. This exhibition, curated by Director Rhana Devenport is the first presentation of the artist’s work in New Zealand and features two projects informed by qualities of hospitality and the nature of home.

Lee Mingwei’s projects often provide a stage for interpersonal exchange inspired by ordinary human events or activities such as sleeping, dining, collecting and gifting. His participatory installations offer a fresh avenue to find meaning within museums today and register a generous and intimate kind of contemporary art-making.

Through The Living Room Project (2000-2008) the Govett-Brewster is turned inside-out as it offers a temporary home for seldom-seen private collections to be revealed and encountered. These local collections – ranging from West African masks to meccano and Maori potatoes – are each presented in the living room for a fortnight. A day is devoted to the collector who plays host in the space, talking casually with visitors about their collection, its beginnings, its evolution, and the stories these objects trigger.

Lee Mingwei’s second work, Nomad Exquisite (2008) is a new project conceived for the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery that harnesses early twentieth century classical music and the natural world as metaphor for human behaviour, along with the artist’s abiding interests in architectural space and Ch’an Buddhist aesthetics. The proportions of the room refer to Tadao Ando’s theory of a contained aesthetic within domestic architecture. A hermit crab dances into view to Debussy’s ‘Serenade for the Doll’, it inhabits a discarded shell that has become its ideal yet temporary home.

Lee Mingwei is Taiwan-born and New York-based, he has exhibited extensively in the US, Taiwan and Australia and has participated in the Venice Biennale, Whitney Biennial, Liverpool Biennial, Taipei Biennial, Asian Contemporary Art Biennial, Echigo-Tsumari Triennial and the Asia-Pacific Triennial. Currently, Lee Mingwei is preparing for a solo exhibition at Edinburgh Festival 2009 and Smithsonian’s Freer & Sackler Galleries in 2009-2010.

Also showing:

Len Lye: Chronosome
6 December 2008 to 16 March 2009
Curated by Tyler Cann

Len Lye: Chronosome features some of Lye’s first and last works including Lye’s first animated film Tusalava, a mythological narrative of the primordial beginnings of organic life. Amoebic shapes populate Lye’s drawings, films, painting and sculpture from the 1920s to the 1970s and reference our cosmic, psychological and biological development, linking notions of time (khronos) and the body (soma).

Liz Allan: How to dress for local conditions
6 December 2008 to 16 March 2009
Curated by Melanie Oliver

New Zealand artist Liz Allan presents How to dress for local conditions. This exhibition sees the development of a new body of work in which Allan offers a series of projects related to notions of keeping in step, learning the basics, or slipping into the social fabric of a place. Allan is the Govett-Brewster’s 2008 New Zealand Artist in Residence.

Break: Towards a public realm
6 December 2008 to 1 February 2009
Curated by Melanie Oliver

Towards a Public Realm is the fourth instalment of Break – an acclaimed series of Govett-Brewster biannual exhibitions. This exhibition presents the work of Murray Hewitt, Fiona Jack, Louise Menzies, Kate Newby, Kim Paton, and Peter Wareing.

7 February 2009 to 29 March 2009
Co-curated by Mercedes Vicente and Sarah Cook

The Govett-Brewster presents a new media exhibition in conjunction with Solar Circuit Aotearoa New Zealand (SCANZ). SCANZ is a two week project based residency for national and international artists, curators, producers, writers and theorists.

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Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
December 18, 2008

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