Past Exhibition

Lee Mingwei ― Visible, Elusive

The Shiseido Gallery is pleased to announce that it will host Visible, Elusive, a solo exhibition by New York-based Taiwan-born artist Lee Mingwei. Running August 28th (Tue) through October 21st (Sun), this will be Lee's first solo exhibition in Japan.

Lee Mingwei was born in Taichung, Taiwan in 1964. From 1989 to 1993 he studied textile arts at the California College of Arts. In 1997 he received an MFA in sculpture from the Graduate School of Fine Arts at Yale University. In 1998 he earned his first art world accolades with a solo show, Way Stations, at New York's Whitney Museum. In 1999 he participated in the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, and since has been active internationally, exhibiting his work at the MOMA in New York and in the Taiwan Pavilion at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003, and at the 18th Sydney Biennale in 2012.

Lee's works can be divided broadly into “events” that draw viewers into one-on-one dialogs, and participation-style installations. In his 1997 debut work in New York, The Dining Project, he treated guests selected from among the visitors to after-hours dinners in the museum, dining with them one-on-one within a space he had set up, seeking to use the everyday act of sharing a meal as a way to establish communication with complete strangers. In a different direction, in 2009 at the Lyon Biennale in France, he first presented The Moving Garden, an installation in which visitors were invited to take one of the fresh flowers Lee had arranged in the space with them when they left the museum, with the condition that they would agree to make a detour from their intended route and, along this detour, to give the flower to a stranger. Both of these works encouraged visitors to consider issues like interpersonal trust relationships, intimacy and self awareness, but the former sought participation with Lee himself in everyday activities like eating, sleeping, walking and conversing, while the latter made visitors the subject and entrusted them to be the main actors. Airily sweeping away the boundaries between art and the everyday, such interactive works encouraging the active participation of visitors created a stir in our current age in which existing conventional values are breaking down and new kinds of relationship-creation are being tested and assessed.

For Fabric of Memory in this current exhibition, Lee has solicited examples of handmade fabric items from the general public and asked their owners to write short texts about the memories associated with them. These he will place inside wooden boxes in the gallery and invite visitors to come open them and inspect their contents. The origin of this idea, Lee says, was his own experience, as a child, finding the courage to go off to his first day of kindergarten in a jacket that his mother had sewn for him. Lee first presented this work at the Tate Liverpool as part of the Liverpool Biennale in 2006, and also once again in 2007 in Taiwan at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei. In both cases the fabric items came from local people, enhancing the sense of regionality of the work. This current iteration offers a Japanese version, with Lee selecting sixteen items and their accompanying stories from the many that were publicly solicited via the Shiseido website. This exhibition will also include The Letter Writing Project, in which visitors are encouraged to write and leave letters behind. Further, Lee will also present 100 Days with Lily, a photographic chronicle of 100 days he spent living with a potted narcissus lily, intended as an offering of grief toward his departed grandmother.

Lee's exhibition will be completed by the personal and individual involvement of all those visiting the gallery over the duration.

Over “time”, people's relationships to their memories and feelings change endlessly. Lee's exhibition, presenting the Shiseido Gallery's first truly viewer participation-style works, focuses on how difficult these are to pin down, and how very fragile they are. The Shiseido Gallery welcomes one and all to this unique and exciting solo show by Lee Mingwei.

  • Lee Mingwei
    Photo by Adam T. Blackbourn

Lee Mingwei Profile

Born in Taichung, Taiwan (currently resides in New York)
Graduates from California College of Arts
MFA in Sculpture, Graduate School of Fine Arts, Yale University

Major solo exhibitions

2012 “The Mending Project,” European Capital of Culture, Guimaraes, Portugal
“Living Room Project,” Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, USA
“Tales of Stones and Flowers,” Espace Louis Vuitton, Taipei, Taiwan
2011 “The Moving Garden,” Brooklyn Museum, New York, USA
“The Travelers,” Museum of Chinese in America, New York, USA
2010 “Trilogy of Sounds,” Mount Stuart, Scotland, UK
2009 “Grandfather's Incline,” Montalvo Art Center, Saratoga, USA
“The Mending Project,” Lombard Freid Fine Arts, New York, USA
2008 “Guernica in Sand,” Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia
“Uncommon Senses,” Govett Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand
2007 “Lee Mingwei: Impermanence,” Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, USA
“Duologue,” Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei, Taipei, Taiwan
2006 “Pantheon Project,” Neuberger Museum of Art, New York, USA
2005 “Through Masters' Eyes,” Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Koln, Germany
2004 “Through Masters' Eyes,” Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, USA
2003 “The Tourist,” Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
“Harvard Seers Project,” Harvard University OFA, Cambridge, USA
2002 “The Tourist Project,” Rice University Art Gallery, Houston, USA
2000 “The Living Room Project,” Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, USA
“Empathic Economies,” Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, USA
1999 “Lee Mingwei 1994 to 98,” Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, USA
1998 “Way Stations,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA

Major group exhibitions

2012 “Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art,” Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, USA
“What You See is What I See,” Shenzhen Sculptural Biennial 2012, Shenzhen, China
“All Our Relations,” Sydney Biennial, Sydney, Australia
“Open Studio School,” Hayward Gallery, London, UK
2010 “21st Century: Art in the First Decade,” Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia
“Re-Thinking Trade,” Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool, UK
2009 “The Enlightenment,” Edinburgh International Festival 20, Edinburgh, UK
“The Spectacle of the Everyday,” Lyon Biennial, Lyon, France
2008 “All-Inclusive. A Tourist World,” Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany
“Contemporary Art from Taiwan,” Governor's Palace, The Moravian Gallery in Brno, Brno, Czech
2007 “1.5 Generation,” Queens Museum of Art, New York, USA
“The 1st Asian Art Biennial,” National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan
2006 “The 4th Liverpool Biennial,” Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
“Echigo Tsumari Art Triennial,” Niigata, Japan
2005 “The Elegance of Silence: Contemporary Art from East Asia,” Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
“We Are the World,” El Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain
2004 “Whitney Seers Project,” Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA
2003 “Limbo Zone,” Venice Biennale, Taiwan Pavilion, Venice, Italy
2002 “The Gift,” Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Arizona, USA
2001 “Male Pregnancy Project,” Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei, Taiwan
2000 “The Shrine Project,” Taipei Biennial, Taipei Fine Art Museum, Taipei, Taiwan
“Gift of Hope,” Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
1999 “The 3rd Asia Pacific Triennial,” Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia

Works to be displayed (subject to change without notice)

  • Fabric of Memory
    2007 Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei
  • Fabric of Memory
    2007 Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei
  • The Letter Writing Project
    2007 Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei
  • 100 Days with Lily
    1995 Photo by Anita Kan,
    Courtesy of Lombard Freid Projects, New York

Lee Mingwei Gallery Talk (in English with Japanese interpretation)

Date: September 2nd, 2012 (Sun), 14:00 - 15:30
Venue: WORD Shiseido, Tokyo Ginza Shiseido Building 9th Floor
Capacity: 60 guests
Participation Fee: None
Inquiries: The Shiseido Gallery (Tel 03-3572-3901 or Fax 03-3572-3951)

Exhibition Details for Lee Mingwei ― Visible, Elusive

Organized by: Shiseido Co., Ltd.
Duration: August 28th (Tue) to October 21st (Sun), 2012
Venue: The Shiseido Gallery
Ginza Shiseido Building, B1, 8-8-3 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061
Tel:03-3572-3901; Fax:03-3572-3951
Hours: Weekdays 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM,
Sundays 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Closed: Mondays (including holidays falling on Monday)
Admission free

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