Meekyoung Shin will present a new body of work in Archetype, a solo exhibition that considers what happens to the identity of an object when it becomes a global cultural icon.
Shin is known for her colourful soap sculptures that draw on familiar objects including Ming vases and Classical, ancient Greek, sculpture. These cultural icons command almost universal recognition and attain this status by being ‘translated’ from their historic and cultural origins to be presented and recontextualised in museums, texts and almost infinite reproductions around the world. Every new interpretation created by this process, no matter how subtle, changes the object. The change is rarely physical but the alteration to the fabric of the object’s history and identity is no less profound.
Meekyoung Shin has previously employed soap as a metaphor for this process of cultural translation. Every time a bar of soap is used it is changed – something of the original is removed and some trace of the contact is left behind. In Archetype Shin develops the sculptural language that she has used to portray the malleability of her subjects, focussing not on the process of re-contextualising but on the effect these multiple readings have on the identity of the original object. In accordance with this shift in perspective Shin has created a new body of entirely black work. New subjects such as Renaissance busts and History Paintings have joined past interests, but all stand uniformly, in stark contrast to the gallery setting and to her past practice. In Archetype Shin reverts renowned cultural objects to their simplest form, presenting them as minimal reductions that provoke contemplation on the affects of repeated global decontextualisation.
In addition to this new series, a single pairing of coloured objects, created in Shin’s previous style, provide a visual reminder of how significant this process of translation can be. The concept of the ‘original’ is represented with a painted, Chinese style blue-and-white vase. The translation is demonstrated with its counterpart, a painted white and russet tone Delftware vessel. This pairing reveals the symbiosis between Chinese and Dutch ceramic production that resulted from trade and cultural exchange between these two contrasting cultures. The red Delftware is not simply a new reading of the Chinese blue-and-white but also a physical transformation that demonstrates the profound affect of translation and decontextualisation on culture.
Archetype demonstrates the iconic nature of the subjects that Meekyoung Shin has chosen to work with throughout her career while exploring new ways of considering the peculiar identities of these world-renowned objects.
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Meekyoung Shin (b.1967) is a graduate of Seoul National University and Slade School of Fine Art. Solo exhibitions include National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul (2013), Written in Soap; A Plinth Project, Cavendish Square, London (2012), MOT Gallery, Taipei (2012), Translation, Haunch of Venison, London (2011), Kukje Gallery, Seoul (2009), Lefebvre & Fils Gallery, Paris (2009), Museum of Art, Seoul National University, Seoul (2008), Moon Jar, Korean Gallery, British Museum, London (2007), Tokyo Humanité Gallery, Tokyo (2002) and Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul (2002). Group shows include Glasstress, (collateral event of the 55th Venice Biennale), Venice (2013), Couriers of Taste, Danson House, Kent (2013), Toilet Works, various venues including IKON Gallery (Birmingham), Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Edinburgh) and Yorkshire Sculpture Park (all 2013), The Fabricated Object, Sumarria Lunn Gallery, London (2012-13), Korean Eye, Saatchi Gallery, London (2012), Synopticon-Contemporary Chinoiserie, Plymouth Museum/Saltram House (2012), Material Matter, East Wing X, Courtauld Institute, London (2012), As Small As a World and Large as Alone, Gallery Hyundai, Seoul (2012), Recasting the Gods, Sumarria Lunn Gallery, London (2012), Material and Energy; Korean Eye, Museum of Art and Design, New York (2011), Poetry of Clay: Korean Buncheong Ceramics from Leeum, Art Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco (2011), TRA: Edge of Becoming, Palazzo Fortuny, Venice (2011), 38°N Snow South, Charlotte Lund Gallery, Stockholm (2011), Memories from the Past, LEEUM, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul (2010), The Alchemists, Edel Assanti, London (2010), Art & Synesthesia, Seoul City Museum, Seoul (2009), Art n Play, Hangaram Mueum, Seoul (2008), Nanging Triennale, Nanging (2008), Meme Trackers, Song Zhuang Art Center, Beijing (2008), Particules Libres, nouvelle génération d’artistes Coréens en Europe, Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris (2007), Telltale, Museum of Ewah University, Seoul (2005), Gwangju Biennale-Korea Express, Gwangju (2004), Chemical Art, Gallery Sagan, Seoul (2003), Alchemy, Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul (2001) and Soft Outside/Solid Inside-Softness Crossing Over Solidness, POSCO Art Museum, Seoul (2001).