It’s a pleasure (not) to meet you
David Castillo Gallery is proud to present It’s a pleasure (not) to meet you by Susan Lee-Chun. The solo show presents new work in sculpture and installation. By interrogating subject-object relationships, Lee-Chun insists upon the primacy of material culture in the politics of representation.
A collection of Kung Fu figurine soaps, five key chains cast from life-sized feet: peering into the clinical glass case fabricated by Susan Lee-Chun for It’s a pleasure (not) to meet you, the viewer mediates between artifact and kitsch, or between systems of knowledge production. The display’s transparent barriers substantiate the glass ceiling between subjectivity and material culture. Its concretization of metaphor shatters the viewer’s expectation of fixed objects, instead setting them in flux between commodity forms and identity representations. When the eye grazes the muscles of a knockoff Bruce Lee, the artist lays bare the apparatus through which Asian masculinity is constructed by the proliferation of signs in popular culture. When the gaze covets a gold-painted, four-finger ring mounted by the word GIBBERISH, the artist exposes the powerful agency of language in the persistence of racial imaginaries.
The defamiliarized scales, materialities, and use values of Lee-Chun’s sculptures fictionalize their role in an ethnographic display. The artist complicates the social construction of identity and representation when she casts aluminum and polymer clay earrings, paints them gold, and spans their hyperbolic 24″ inch diameters with phrases including “La Chinita” and “No se habla Chinois o Japonais.” At such moments, the specificity of the artist’s own ethnic, geographic, linguistic, and social narratives underscore the personal subjectivity at stake in the materiality of culturally produced objects. It’s a pleasure (not) to meet you becomes a refusal to be what one wears, utilizes, or collects. The exhibitions parenthetical negation emphasizes, after Stuart Hall, the co-constitutional condition of culture and consumption.
Susan Lee-Chun was born in Seoul, Korea, and lives and works in Miami. Since studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2004, MA), Susan Lee-Chun has exhibited widely in the U.S. and abroad – Herning Kunstmuseum, Denmark; 2006 Vienna Biennale, Vienna, Austria; Pacific Asia Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL. She has held residencies at the Bemis Center in Omaha, NE, Three Walls in Chicago, IL, and McColl Center for Visual Art, Charlotte, North Carolina (2011). In February 2015, Susan Lee-Chun had a solo exhibition History of Incuriosity at the Miami Dade College’s Museum of Art + Design. Recent group shows include Image Search at PAMM, Miami. Her work is in important public and private collections, including PAMM Miami and the ICA, Miami.