Welcome to the 14th installment of the interview series Meet LA’s Art Community. Check out our past interviews here.
This week, we interview Kang Seung Lee, a multidisciplinary artist. For his projects, Lee mines private and public archives (from art collections to libraries) and unearths forgotten or marginalized histories. He has said, “My work comes from the desire to challenge the narrow perspective of the biased and first-world-oriented timeline of history.” Lee has had solo exhibitions at Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles Contemporary Archive, Pitzer College Art Galleries, and other venues around the world. In 2020, his new projects will be exhibited at MMCA, Seoul and the 13th Gwangju Biennale. He received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.
Where were you born?
Seoul, Korea. The country was still under a military dictatorship and went through different chapters like democratization and economic development since then. I lived in quite a few places on different continents before moving to the US.
How long have you been living in Los Angeles?
For seven years now. I worked as a trader at a diamond company for several years before going back to art school. At that time I was living and working in Mexico City where I also met my husband Geoff. We moved to Los Angeles when I decided to attend CalArts to get an MFA.
What’s your first memory of seeing art?
As a child, I was exposed to Korean traditional art because my parents sent me to Seo-dang, a traditional school where I learned calligraphy, traditional writing, and painting. The first contemporary artwork that made a big impression on me was Lee Bul’s sculpture and installation — I was in high school and was completely blown away by her work, she is still one of my favorite artists.
Do you like to photograph the art you see? If so, what device do you use to photograph?
I do, and I use my phone.
What was your favorite exhibition in Los Angeles this year?
Candice Lin’s solo exhibition, Natural History: A Half-Eaten Portrait, an Unrecognizable Landscape, a Still, Still Life, recently opened at Pitzer College Art Galleries. The show consists of a full-scale monumental ceramic sarcophagus of the artist with her future cat, and a few other vitrines for colonies of beetles that are living on a diet, including Lin’s dried skin and fingernails. It is extraordinary, a must-see.
What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
Jimmie Durham’s Waiting To Be Interrupted (2013); it’s a collection of Durham’s writings, 1993–2012. I love his rejection of identities as rigid ideas and his disregard for recognition by other people, and often think about his beautiful retrospective show at the Hammer Museum (2017). I am also reading Leslie Dick’s novels from the late ’80s and early ’90s, they are amazing.
Do you prefer to see art alone or with friends?
Both. I love going to exhibitions with friends, seeing art alone without interrupting each one’s experience, and talking about it over coffee or a meal.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a commissioned work by the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul and a new project for this year’s Gwangju Biennale. Both projects are about how to imagine a queer future collectively and in collaboration with many wonderful artists and scholars. In addition, I am working on a collaborative project with my dear friend and colleague Beatriz Cortez for an exhibition at 18th Street Art Center this fall.
What is one accomplishment that you are particularly proud of?
Last year I co-curated an exhibition titled QueerArch in Seoul, which consisted of newly commissioned works by young queer artists based in Seoul. All of the artists used a queer archive called QueerArch (aka Korea Queer Archive) as the catalyst for their work. I am proud that we were able to create a conversation about the invisible memories of queer lives and different generations of artists and activists in Korea through the exhibition.
Where do you turn to for inspiration for your projects?
Almost everything but particularly my generous friends who share their stories from many different times and places.
The committee’s main responsibilities will be to shape policy goals, stimulate arts philanthropy, and advocate for the expansion of federal backing of the cultural sector.
Some museumgoers pointed out that the museum’s label omitted discussions of HIV/AIDS, which are at the heart of the work.
Featuring over 70 installations and performances at the George Washington University’s historic Flagg Building, the Corcoran’s end-of-year showcase is now available for virtual viewing.
But a museum in Harvard is still named after a member of the disgraced family, notorious for its role in the opioid crisis.
Parker’s stories bring so many of her works alive, give them meaning, and make us warm to her and to them. Is that a problem?
Artists reflect on histories of oppressive power structures in Brazil in this exhibition at the Visual Arts Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
The works, and worlds, on display in Hancock’s exhibition seem saturated with a desire for narrative redemption through self-observation and aspects of his Christian upbringing.
The problem with Andrew Dominik’s biopic Blonde is its assumption that Monroe’s victimization was the most fascinating thing about her.
When I recently came across Sandra Cattaneo Adorno’s photo book Águas de Ouro, I could hear the waves and boomboxes, and even taste the salt on my lips.
Works by over 70 artists of the pan-South Asian diaspora were up for auction to help Pakistan’s most vulnerable communities in a women- and queer-led initiative.
The board of 70 Washington Street in Brooklyn, which previously housed an artist residency, is weighing the replacement of Helen Brough’s “Emulated Flora” with generic photographs of Brooklyn landmarks.