Strange Attractors
October 24, 2020 – September 26, 2021
Tate St Ives, UK

Installation view of Strange Attractors, Tate St Ives, UK, 2020
Photo: Steve Tanner
Video: Tate St Ives


Press Release

This autumn Tate St Ives will stage Strange Attractors, the UK’s largest exhibition to date by celebrated South Korean artist Haegue Yang. Yang is renowned for creating immersive environments from a diverse range of materials. Her sculptures and installations often use industrially made objects, interwoven with labour-intensive and craft-based processes. These processes reflect pagan cultures and their deep connection with various seasonal rituals in relation to natural phenomena. The exhibition’s title – Strange Attractors – is a concept taken from mathematics and relates to complex patterns of behaviour in chaotic natural systems. Taking this theory as a starting point, Yang’s exhibition creates an environment in which uncanny and seemingly disparate ideas, cultures, relations and time periods coexist.

For the first time at Tate St Ives, the exhibition will be staged across both the award-winning top-lit gallery in the new building and the spectacular sea-facing gallery in the original building. Yang will transform these two spaces into an open-ended exploration of geometry, abstraction and the aftermath of modernism.

The new gallery will be divided by free-standing triangular wall structures. The perforation of these walls is based on a traditional geometric ‘whirlwind’ textile pattern from the Philippines. Opening up sightlines across the room, the permeable wall structures articulate the entire gallery space and cut a diagonal passageway across the centre, where Sonic Half Moons encased with patterns of nickel and brass plated bells are suspended. The architectural wall surfaces are also treated in three different modes: wallpapered, patterned with door knobs, and empty. The paper collage series Trustworthies will be installed on the blank walls and the expansive wallpaper Non-Linear and Non-Periodic Dynamics will host the small-scaled Lacquer Paintings. Visitors will encounter otherworldly, creature-like sculptures made of artificial straw from Yang’s The Intermediates and Sonic Intermediates series as well as the gigantic Reflected Metallic Cubist Dancing Mask.

Strange Attractors addresses the context of St Ives and its relationship to modernism by bringing three artistic figures together. The new sculptural ensemble Sonic Intermediates – Three Differential Equations is in fact based on historic as well as imaginary encounters among artists Naum Gabo, Barbara Hepworth, Li Yuan-chia and perhaps Haegue Yang herself.

The Cornish landscape and its ancient archaeological heritage are important points of inspiration. Mundus Cushion – Yielding X incorporates Yang’s variations on ‘church kneelers’ – traditionally depicting religious symbols – which Yang has abstracted into her own unique explorations of the sacred and the secular.

Two layers of translucent fabric will cover the entire length of the gallery's curved glass front, facing the sea. Gently moving with ventilated air, the fabric’s shimmering colour overlaps with the hue of the ocean beyond, while its moiré effect will cast a blue-green light over a group of ethereal drying rack sculptures, Non-Indépliables, nues.

Haegue Yang: Strange Attractors is curated by Anne Barlow, Director of Tate St Ives, with Assistant Curator Giles Jackson. It will be accompanied by a catalogue published by Tate Publishing and designed by Berlin-based Studio Manuel Raeder, as well as a programme of talks and events in the gallery.



Haegue Yang: Strange Attractors, 2020

Curated by Anne Barlow, Director, Tate St Ives, with Giles Jackson, Assistant Curator. With thanks to Helen Bent, Sara Matson and Sally Noall at Tate St Ives, and to the Li Yuan-chia Foundation and Studio Haegue Yang in Berlin and Seoul
Supported by the Henry Moore Foundation and Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, with additional support from Kvadrat and Tate Members
Download exhibition booklet


Exhibited works

Mundus Cushion – Yielding X, 2020

Non-Linear and Non-Periodic Dynamics, 2020

Reflected Metallic Cubist Dancing Mask, 2020

The Intermediates, 2015-

Sonic Half Moons, 2014-

Sonic Full Moons, 2014-

Sonic Figures, 2013-

Non-Foldings – Geometric Tipping, 2013

Non-Indépliables, Nues, 2010-

Trustworthies, 2010-

Lacquer Paintings, 1994-