Haegue Yang: Emergence opens Oct. 1 at the AGO

New installation by acclaimed South Korean artist transforms the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Sculpture Atrium with floating venetian blinds and LED tubes

TORONTO — Haegue Yang: Emergence, the first North American survey exhibition by the acclaimed South Korean artist, opens at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) on Oct. 1, 2020 and runs through Jan. 31, 2021. In addition to the 82 works featured in the exhibition, the AGO has commissioned two new works by the artist.

On view, suspended above the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Sculpture Atrium, Woven Currents – Confluence of Parallels (2020) is a large-scale installation composed of venetian blinds and LED tubes, inspired by the layered architectural history of the space. Tectonic Undulations – A Fugue for the Great Wilderness (2020), a new wallpaper designed by Yang and American artist and book designer Conny Purtill, will go on view later this year in the AGO’s South Entrance.

Woven Currents – Confluence of Parallels exposes the layered architecture of the AGO and makes its intricate history visible. The genesis for this work was the Two Row Wampum Treaty of 1613, a belt made from wampum shells that I learned about while at the AGO. The belt is an agreement between the Five Nations of the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) and the Dutch government,” says Yang. “I was struck by how powerful this treaty is, so unlike legal documents we are accustomed to, and how an object can clearly convey a lasting message about the values, hopes, and beliefs of those who created it. These thoughts led me to connect the parallel lines of the wampum belt, which maps a trajectory for two very different peoples, to the linear structure of venetian blinds. Like history itself, these lines are entangled.”

Curated by Adelina Vlas, the AGO’s Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, Haegue Yang: Emergence will be on view on Level 5 of the AGO’s David and Vivian Campbell Centre for Contemporary Art. A leading artist of her generation, this focused survey of Yang’s artwork includes large-scale installations, sculptures and two-dimensional artworks from the last 25 years, and intentionally resists any kind of chronology. Works from various moments of Yang’s career, from the mid-1990’s all the way to the present, have been assembled and grouped together, in order to prompt new meanings and new readings. The exhibition title, Emergence, refers to a natural, social, and economic phenomenon in which a whole entity exhibits qualities and behaviours that its individual parts do not have on their own. 

Emergence is a concept that revealed itself during Yang’s residency at the AGO in July of 2019. It is both the theme of this exhibition and its desired effect,” says Vlas. “It is what can happen when artworks and people come together, escaping the narrow conditions of their construction. From the selection of sculptures welcoming the visitor on the fifth floor, to the presentation of the series of Non-Indépliables; from the Anthology of Haegue Archives to the Lacquer Paintings; and from the Can Cosies to the Sol LeWitt Vehicles, one can trace the development of a deliberately idiosyncratic practice rooted in conceptual strategies and a partiality to everyday materials. Our intention in bringing these complex works together was to reveal the emergent relationships between them and their respective contexts of creation.”

Addressing historical and contemporary narratives of migration, displacement and belonging, Yang’s rich visual language of everyday materials includes venetian blinds, canned goods, light bulbs, drying racks, knitting yarn and bells. By incorporating sound, light, air, smell, and movement into her works, she transforms our understanding of these objects, creating allegorical figures that resist simple definition, being at once local and global in nature.

“Yang’s awareness of her own place in the world in general and in the art world in particular,” says Vlas, “instills her work with a profound criticality evident throughout her career. Particularly exciting for us at the AGO is how, in time, Woven Currents – Confluence of Parallels will become part of the AGO Collection and emerge a participant in a continuous process of becoming.”

A hardcover catalogue, co-published by DelMonico Books/Prestel and the AGO, will be released later this fall to accompany Haegue Yang: Emergence.

Exclusive AGO Member previews for Haegue Yang: Emergence begin on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Admission to the exhibition is included with an AGO Membership or Annual Pass, and is free for visitors 25 and under. To book your timed-entry ticket and to learn more about exhibition-related programming, visit ago.ca/exhibitions/haegue-yang-emergence.

Haegue Yang (b. 1971 Seoul) lives and works in Berlin, Germany and Seoul, South Korea. She is a Professor at the Staedelschule in Frankfurt am Main. For the opening of the expanded building of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, MoMA commissioned Yang to create an installation for the Marron Atrium. Handles has been highly praised for its performative power to render and weave seemingly irrelevant historical narratives into a singular immersive, mesmerizing and performative field, and it is on view until November 15, 2020.  Yang has participated in major international exhibitions including the 16th Istanbul Biennial (2019), the 21st Biennale of Sydney (2018), La Biennale de Montréal (2016), the 12th Sharjah Biennial (2015), the 9th Taipei Biennial (2014), dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel (2012) and the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009) as the South Korean representative as well as in the International Art Exhibition at the Arsenale.

 Yang’s work is included in permanent collections such as the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA; M+, Hong Kong, China; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, South Korea; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA; Remai Modern, Saskatoon, Canada; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA.

Her work has been the subject of numerous monographs and catalogue raisonées, such as Haegue Yang: Anthology 2006–2018; Tightrope Walking and Its Wordless Shadow (2019); Haegue Yang: ETA 1994–2018 (2018); Haegue Yang: VIP’s Union (2017); and Haegue Yang: Family of Equivocations (2013).

Other solo shows opening this fall are: O2 & H2O at National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, South Korea; The Cone of Concern at Museum of Contemporary Art and Design Manila, Philippines; and Strange Attractors at Tate St Ives, UK. Yang will also participate in the group show Ground/work at The Clark, Williamstown, MA, USA.

@AGOToronto | #HaegueYangAGO  

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Located in Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario is one of the largest art museums in North America, attracting approximately one million visitors annually. The AGO Collection of more than 105,000 works of art ranges from cutting-edge contemporary art to significant works by Indigenous and Canadian artists and European masterpieces. The AGO presents wide-ranging exhibitions and programs, including solo exhibitions and acquisitions by diverse and underrepresented artists from around the world. In 2019, the AGO launched a bold new initiative designed to make the museum even more welcoming and accessible with the introduction of free admission for anyone 25 years and under and a $35 annual pass. Visit AGO.ca to learn more.
The AGO is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO Members, donors and private-sector partners.


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