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The Co-existence of Birth and Death: ‘Dan Lie: 36 Months of Loss’

exhibition Youn Yaelim Mar 14, 2024

SPACE MARCH 2024 (No. 676) 


Installation view of ‘Dan Lie: 36 Months of Loss’​ ©Art Sonje Center


Indonesian-Brazilian artist Dan Lie’s solo exhibition, ‘Dan Lie: 36 Months of Loss’, held at the Art Sonje Center. Dan Lie pursues place and time-specific work by working alongside ‘other-than-humans’ such as mold, enzymes, animals, flowers, ancestors, and spirits, which do not receive attention in the human-centred world. In this exhibition ze presents a reinterpretation of samnyeonsang (three-year mourning period), a Korean funeral culture. This year marks the third year of the death of artist’s father. During the period of Lie’s stay in Korea in preparation of this exhibition, ze learned about Korea’s mourning culture through conversations with straw craftsmen, folklore researchers, and Zen Buddhist nun, Jeong Kwan. And through the works installed at The Ground and Hanok, ze mourns zir father’s death once more. 

Entering The Ground, a familiar scent stimulates your olfactory senses beyond the yellow sambe (hemp cloth) surrounding the exhibition hall. Following this scent, one faces an immense ecosystem where motifs from the Korean funeral culture is alive and breathing, such as mounds of dirt, chrysanthemums, straws, and a onggi filled with rice and yeast. In the Hanok, another ecosystem unfolds where traditional architecture and the reinterpretations of these items are intertwined. The organisms in the two works cycle through the process of fermentation and decay, repeating creation and extinction. This cycle of birth and death is also a major theme for the trans-nonbinary artist, suggesting the possibility of ‘transition’ beyond the dichotomy of life and death. During the exhibition period, the works will change in response to its surrounding environment. The makgeolli (a form of rice wine) in the onggi will ferment, the yellow colour of the sambe will slowly fade, and the chrysanthemum will wither. As Lie explains, it is ‘works that exist only at this time and space, and can never be created again’. Exhibition runs until May 12.