Johann König, Berlin is delighted to be able to present the fourth solo exhibition of David Zink Yi’s work in the Gallery. The driving force behind Zink Yi’s artistic creations – be they in the form of sculpture, film or photographs – is the all-encompassing and multi-layered inquiry into the phenomenon of identity. When contemplating his works, we believe at first to be able to recognize familiar motifs, which, however, Zink Yi then de-stabilizes by means of shifts, or by the manner of display or portrayal, so creating a new image.
Standing – or rather, lying – in the spatial and conceptual centre of the exhibition in Johann König’s Southern Gallery is one of the major works in David Zink Yi's current sculptural oeuvre: Untitled (Architeuthis), 2013, a naturalistic representtation of the creature of that name. The work is part of a series of ceramic sculptures created over the past two years, each on average 19 ft long and weighing 440 lbs, each elaborately glazed and shimmering in a range of opalescent colours. According to the latest scientific research, a real-life architeuthis can grow to up to 46 ft long and lives in the sea at depths of up to 12,000 ft. It was only one year ago, in 2013, that an international research team managed to capture film footage of a giant deep-sea squid in its natural habitat – a world first, although the existence of giant squid had been scientifically established since the nineteenth century with the help of carcass parts washed up on beaches. Accordingly, David Zink Yi presents his architeuthis as an unmoving, lifeless form, pressed to the floor. It seems as if this deep-sea dweller too has been washed ashore and has perished, snatched away from its natural environment.
In 2012, during an exhibition at the Tate Modern, David Zink Yi himself emphasized the importance of the creature’s lifeless state: “... sure, these molluscs in general offer a fascinating motif for sculpture, but for me it’s not so much about a realistic reproduction of Nature, but more a reference to this strange moment when these creatures reveal themselves to us, as a kind of garbage of Nature. It is this moment that is for me a much more intriguing motif.” And so Untitled (Architeuthis), with its magnificently iridescent surface, seems like a piece of sepulchre sculpture highlighting the transition between two separate worlds. David Zink Yi places the ceramic work in a pool of Japanese ink and syrup. This is less a narrative element than a formal decision, since it gives the sculpture a pedestal or frame.
For the last two years in 2012 and 2013, David Zink Yi has been researching in various regions in Peru for his different projects. A great number of them deal with the Peruvian mining industry. The photographs of the Untitled series were taken as a visual research in preparation of the video The strangers in the area of the silver mine in the region of Ayacucho in central Peru. Specifically, these black and white images were taken in the adit of the mine during the mine's working hours. The photographs are lit only with the scarce and tenuous lights used by workers to mine and drill underground.
David Zink Yi, (b. 1973 in Lima/Peru) studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Munich and at the Universität der Künste, Berlin. The Stranger is currently on view at the 8th Berlin Biennale. His most recent solo exhibitions were at Hauser&Wirth, Zurich (2013), Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany (2013), Museo de arte de Lima (2012), NBK Berlin (2012) as well as in the Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis (2011), MAK, Wien (2010) or at the Kunst Halle, Sankt Gallen (2009). He took part in group exhibitions in the Tate Modern, London (2012), Museo Sala de arte, Mexico (2012) and Ludwig Forum im Aachen, Germany (2012). In 2013 David Zink Yi participated in the Bienal de las Americas, Dallas and the 55.Biennale in Venice. Works by Zink Yi are represented in numerous collections such as those of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the MUDAM, Luxemburg and Museum Ludwig, Cologne.
John Armleder, Mark Barrow & Sarah Parke, Matthias Bitzer, John Currin, Ayan Farah, Mark Hagen, Max Lamb, Peter Peri, Christopher Schanck, Francesco Vezzoli, Brent Wadden, Franz West, and japanese Boros.
What happens when a work of art also presents a functional purpose, when a sculpture serves as a piece of furniture, when a picture is painted, not on canvas, but on a curtain or carpet?
This exhibition puts into perspective the way in which many artists eschew categories and question the porous boundary that is meant to separate fine art from the decorative arts by reintroducing the notion of domesticity in their reflection.
These works – often considered as belonging in the margins of artistic practice – reveal other stakes, however. The most obvious of these consists in attributing to the object a function that goes beyond beauty or content.
This interest in the dialogue between form and function is present throughout history. It was revived in the late nineteenth century by the Arts and Crafts movement of William Morris and John Ruskin, and some years later by Art Nouveau, which gave shape to this ideal of ‘beautiful and useful’ creations. This same objective was put forward in the 1920s and 1930s by avant-garde movements like Bauhaus and De Stijl, before once more losing in importance. Throughout the twentieth century, the question of the closeness or distance between fine art and the decorative arts has been hotly debated, just as, for that matter, the potential ‘decorative’ virtues of the work of art. For their part, designers stress this possible permeability between furniture and sculpture by creating pieces whose functionality vanishes behind form, and/or by increasingly producing limited series, and sometimes even unique pieces.
Today the presumed barrier between what allegedly falls under art and what has long been considered a minor art is gradually fading away. This change in perspective has been brought about by artists that have rekindled the dialogue between form and function by introducing in their practice materials that are generally used in the creation of domestic objects or craftwork. Thus, ceramic, wool, textile, glass and recycled materials, among others, are now an integral part of the contemporary language of the visual arts.
These materials induce techniques and gestures that have long been reserved for artistic craftwork or for the painstaking creations of women (from the myth of Penelope waiting for the return of Ulysses to the needlework of nuns behind convent walls or to knitting and embroidery, considered as feminine pastimes). This return to manual ‘fabrication’, this involvement in the practice of a craft requiring time and attention seems to steer the choice of some artists. Far from being regressive, this attitude can be seen as a response to the production of spectacular works whose technical perfection and sophistication erase any trace of manual intervention and discourage any form of emotion. More modest in appearance, these productions tolerate potential imperfections, irregularities, flaws that not only define their singularity, but also express a certain poetry and a proximity to those who contemplate them or make use of them. Moreover, these ‘functional’ pieces sometim es raise questions in relation to the body. The viewer-turned-user is invited to touch, move, sit on and experiment the object, while appreciating it for what it is, i.e., a work of art (whether it is a unique piece or is produced in a limited series).
At times the object created by the artist will generate a certain confusion born of the blurring of codes, notably when the artist confronts a pre-existing functional artefact with his own work. The same uncertainty occurs when paint is applied to a support other than a canvas, such as a carpet or a tapestry. These practices are as much evocative of the hybrid forms that painting can take as of the way in which we look at works that escape easy categorization.
In its diversity, the exhibition offers a contemporary outlook on creation in the broadest sense of the term. It also plays freely with the idea of a domestic installation that has more to do with the apartment of an amateur than the white cube that is the gallery.
For any further information, please contact Camille Blumberg: email@example.com