Boxing Ballet
2013/2015

Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art

Installation view of Shooting the Elephant 象 Thinking the Elephant, Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea, 2015*
Photo: Studio Haegue Yang

* From the original version of Boxing Ballet, Windy Orbit is added instead of wall painting and Trustworthies.



ⓒ Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art




Installation view of Follies, Mehrfach: Gabriel Lester - Haegue Yang / Follies, Manifold: Gabriel Lester - Haegue Yang, Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, Germany, 2014
Photo and video: Studio Haegue Yang

A stage, divided from the outside world, is a box that seizes a certain sense of space and time. Boxing Ballet, which brings together figures and space through the concept of the “box,” attempts to overcome the precondition of the white cube in art institutions. This sculptural group is a reinterpretation of the figures from Triadic Ballet (1922), a renowned work by Oskar Schlemmer (1888«1943), a Bauhaus professor, painter, and sculptor. Boxing Ballet, shown here for the first time in Korea, was previously shown in Yang’s 2013 solo exhibition Journal of Echomimetic Motions (Bergen Kunsthall, Norway) and in her 2014 two-person show Follies, Manifold (Bonner Kunstverein, Germany). Unlike its first installation in 2013, this installation of Boxing Ballet does not include the colored walls and collages of Trustworthies but instead incorporates Windy Orbit – Brass Plated. The newly-recomposed installation confronts Cittadella with a number of figurative elements; the architectural composition of Cittadella and the figurative, sculptural group of Boxing Ballet occupy opposite sides of the space connected by the broad curves of the spiral taping on the floor.

The constellation of Sonic Figures consists of six sculptures covered in golden bells, with two of the works installed hanging from the ceiling and the other four standing on casters, at a human scale. The sculptures―standing along the spiral on the floor of the Black Box, reminiscent of a planetary orbit―have bodies that are at once figurative and, in the manner of Schlemmer, geometric. Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet, with its focus on restricted motion and stiff, sculptural garments that restrict the body, has been cited as a point of reference to the Western avant-garde in Yang’s earlier work Dress Vehicles (2011«2012). While Yang’s previous interpretations of historical references didn’t directly reappropriate the original forms despite their close relation, Sonic Figures exceptionally resemble Schlemmer’s figures. Compared to Dress Vehicles, which involve entering the works and moving them with handles, the sculptures in Sonic Figures have a more clearly anthropomorphic appearance. Rather than going inside the sculpture in the manner of Dress Vehicles, one confronts Sonic Figures as if approaching another for a dance. Pushing or pulling the sculptures causes them to waver subtly in a motion that echoes the curves of the floor, producing a delicate, metallic sound from their countless bells. The bells’ quavering sound can also be seen as an expression of the artist’s interest in the machines, robots, and puppets used by the artists of the Western avant-garde.

Also standing on the floor’s spiral is Windy Orbit – Brass Plated, a sculpture-machine made from eight fans arranged in three tiers. A portion of each fan is hung with golden bells, causing the sculpture to produce both sound and wind as the fan blades turn at a low speed. It is at once a wind-producing fan, a sound-producing instrument, and an odd, many-headed machine. Windy Orbit’s repeated turning motions represent the bells in both a visual and aural ―that is, a synesthetic―manner.

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


Work consists of:

Sonic Figures, 2013/2015

Trustworthies, 2013

Taping on the floor


Exhibition history

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

Follies, Manifold: Gabriel Lester - Haegue Yang, Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, Germany, 2014

Journal of Echomimetic Motions, Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen, Norway, 2013


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