Mire Lee (b. 1988 in Seoul; lives and works between Amsterdam and Seoul)
Untitled (My Pittsburgh Sculpture), 2022
metal, silicone oil, resin, dosing pumps, steel wire ropes, barbed wire, and other mixed media
Commissioned by Carnegie Museum of Art for the 58th Carnegie International
Mire Lee employs more robust sculptural materials such as metal, plaster, and concrete alongside glycerin, silicone, and various types of resin, which are often animated by electric motors and pumps. The artist's works sometimes recall the internal systems of the human body — its organ functions, convulsions, failures, fluids, and excretions as a way of probing the depths and outer limits of human behavior and the psyche.
The centerpiece of Lee's new sculpture is a steel and glass decagonal form that contains flexible, kinetic components turning in a viscous fluid. Here, soft internal elements become entangled with each other and come into contact with hard, unforgiving materials. An extension of the artist's exploration of pain, this commission connects with the machinations set in motion in Lee's prior works that mine a vocabulary of the ugly, neglected, strained, vulnerable, and leaky. In this dark sublime, the artist seeks generative and redemptive lessons. She observes: "I've always seen heart-wrenching things as beautiful…. I do not believe we can eliminate violence or toxicity in its entirety from the world, but we can develop responses other than disgust or withdrawal." Taking one step further, Lee asks how we might come to understand and make something of pain, violence, or injustice that is compounded, knotted up, and which has no single source or cause.