Seung-Taek Lee: Things Unstable
February 3, 2023 – May 22, 2023
351 Canal St
New York, NY
Seung-Taek Lee: Things Unstable reflects on the pioneering work of the Korean avant-garde artist Seung-taek Lee (b. 1932). Lee gained his reputation from his groundbreaking multidisciplinary practice resulting in a wide range of artistic projects including ephemeral performances, site-specific works, photographic interventions, appropriated canvases, and sculptures.
Deploying natural elements such as fire, wind, earth, and water as conceptual collaborators, Lee’s multimedia performances expanded the lexicon of the 1970s’ turn towards environmental aesthetics marking his practice as an early proponent of eco-art.
Celebrating his life-long preoccupation with the environment, Canal Projects will host re-enactments of two of Lee’s most well-known works: Wind-Folk Amusement (1971) and Earth Performance (1989-1996). Documentation and re-enactments of his performances will contextualize Lee’s practice amidst today’s most pressing ecological concerns while also drawing back to the global environmental movements of the 1970s.
The show seeks to provide a wider understanding of Lee’s incessant aim to disrupt mainstream ideas of art. In subverting artistic hierarchies, Lee’s practice centers instead on the use of quotidian, unsuspected, and at times found objects imbuing his practice with unparalleled humor and irreverence.
Seung-taek Lee (b. 1932) lives and works in Seoul. Lee was born in Gowon-eup, in the Northeastern part of the Korean peninsula. He migrated to South Korea as a young adult where he joined the military. After the end of the Korean war in 1953, the artist enrolled in the sculpture department of Hongik University. Working with stone and sculpture mostly for public monuments in Korea, Lee has maintained a practice that critically thinks about the qualities of matter, space, and the environment.
In the course of his prolific career, Lee has been an active member of a number of artistic organizations like the Korean Contemporary Sculpture Association (1969), New Image Associations (1962) and most prominently the Korean Avant-Garde Association (1970). He has taught at Dankook University’s Faculty of Architecture at the School of Engineering and at the Ewha Women’s University’s Faculty of Sculpture at Department of Arts, He also represented Korea at the Paris Biennale (1969), the 11th Sao Paulo biennale (1971), the Busan Biennale (2002), and the Gwangju Biennale (2010) besides participated in countless individual and group shows.