New Landscape Emerges on State Street
A sneak preview of 'Jason S. Yi: A Fragile Permanence'
Artist Jason S. Yi works on the installation in his Milwaukee studio.
PHOTO COURTESY OF MMOCA
Opposing forces are at work in the lobby of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. A silvery mass teeters high overhead on fiery, poppy red wooden supports. Rooted squarely on the wall to the left are four whitewashed pegboard panels, with subtle hints of red and abstract splotches of texture. The holes in the pegboard create a stark grid on the panels, almost like a map on the lobby walls. The installation presents visual conflict—conflict between the precariousness of the silver mass and the stability of the panels, and conflict between the artificial materials and the suggestion of organic landforms.
The lobby installation is just the beginning. In weeks to come, the windows of MMoCA will offer passers-by even more visual conflict, through the progression of Jason S. Yi: A Fragile Permanence. From August 4 to August 21, Milwaukee sculpture artist Jason S. Yi will be at work behind a translucent curtain, building and transforming wooden slats and white duct tape into a mountainous landform. The lobby installation serves as a preview for the larger, site-specific exhibition, which will sprawl and grow to command the entire State Street Gallery. Though the installations in the lobby and the gallery will be different, Yi plans to connect the two spaces by applying similar principles so that they are intricately related.
Yi, who built Legend of the White Snake, the PVC pipe sculpture exhibited on the museum’s rooftop, is known for using utilitarian materials to construct massive, rugged sculptural landscapes. Yi has exhibited nationally and internationally and in several Wisconsin Triennial exhibitions at MMoCA. Originally from South Korea, Yi draws on his personal history to build his installations, including his childhood in America and the work of his father, a landscape painter. Traditional Asian landscape paintings also inform his work, especially his limited color palette. The lack of color grants his work flexibility, he says, allowing it to become receptive to its environment. The red in the lobby was chosen for its oppositional nature. For Yi, the color offers warmth, yet suggests danger and provides visual contrast.
A Fragile Permanence will play with the perception of natural landscapes and our relationship to them, taking personal history and cultural perspective into account. As part of this relationship, the audience will have the opportunity to watch Yi’s work evolve, progress and grow from the street.
“I have nothing to hide,” laughs Yi. In a strange way, the installation is performance art, he says. As an artist, Yi places high value on audience perception. The open exposure of the gallery offers Madisonians the unique opportunity to catch glimpses of the artistic process and engage with the emerging landscape. However, opposing forces come into play again, as the glass and the translucent veil keep viewers on edge. The museum plans to host opportunities for the public to speak with the artist throughout the process.
Yi will start building the installation from the inside out on August 4. He can’t plan exactly how each piece will fit together; he predicts his biggest challenges will be to pace himself and his materials. Stay tuned to madisonmagazine.com for exclusive updates with Yi throughout the building process.
For more information on the exhibition, visit mmoca.org.