INVASION OF PRIVACY
The Stolbun Collection LES
188 Ludlow Apt.11D New York, NY 10002
MAY 7–27 2018
By appointment only, email@example.com
"Bury Me to Cardi B: Desire and Death in the Work of HyeGyeong Choi"
To pass into the underworld, your heart must be lighter than a feather, at least according to the Ancient Egyptians, who painted the inside of their tombs from floor to ceiling with scenes drawn from their lived experience. These were to remind departed souls of their mundane merits when they confronted the god Osiris, the gatekeeper to the great beyond, who would whip out his scales for those journeying to the other side. If your heart was pure and therefore light enough, eternal celebration ensued; if not, demons would consume you, all promises of paradise dashed.
In Invasion of Privacy, on view May 7th through 27th at The Stolbun Collection LES, HyeGyeong Choi offers an underworld journey that may not require you to rip out your heart for feather comparison, but she still demands a weighty toll. Upon entering the space, you must step on her scale and let the artist register the number it displays—a nerve wracking experience that doesn't allow any margin of dishonesty. In the same time as it takes the scale to calibrate, your mind recounts what you had for breakfast, your last gym visit, that comment your mom made about the fit of your jeans five years ago. It’s this action of being weighed, not your weight, that make you realize that mortality is not just a straightforward matter of life and death, but rather a constant renegotiation of your personal terms of survival and the threats, both emotional and physical, that make you feel vulnerable.
With your heft assessed, you can cross the threshold into Choi’s netherworld, an apartment-cum-gallery space rented by The Stolbun Collection where the artist has been in residence since January. She’s painted nearly every wall and moveable surface a paradisiacal peach, a color at once familiar and fun but unnerving in its overwhelming fleshiness. On the walls, three new paintings by the artist offer vignettes of various transgressions, Choi’s distinctive bright and poppy palette masking the degrees of violence witnessed in everyday existence, especially as a woman or minority with body noted for its otherness. The slightly abstracted but bulbously biomorphic forms that populate her canvases embody the sensation of innumerable physical infractions that range from being pushed and prodded on crowded public transportation to the exploitation of one’s feelings and flesh by presumed friends.
However fleeting these invasive moments when first experienced, Choi’s paintings remind you that the emotional aftershocks of violation inform your future as much as your past. In She Bad, hands grab greedily at skin, teeth bite at nipples, and phallic shapes emerge from the deep blue undulations of paint that ripple across the surface of the canvas. Touches of a warm pink, the same hue that cover the walls of the room in which you’re standing, highlight one figure in the painting, a figure that can’t be fully seen but is instead fragmented by the interruptions of these other appendages—a being consumed by another’s hunger. Layer upon layer of bruising blue and blushing peach build on one another to create a three dimensional apex within the center of the painting, as if the figure was desperate to burst out of its canvas confines. Desperate to assert its own bodily mass against you since, as a voyeur, you’re complicit in the consumption you’re witnessing in the artist’s work.
Like the scenes included on Ancient Egyptian tomb walls, Choi’s paintings serve as reminders to a soul shaken by trauma of that which has led it to the borderlands of being, the interstitial space between living and dead where it prays for redemption via judgement. Who, though, in this peach-colored palace is the judge? Is it the artist or the viewer? The perpetrator or the victim? When we suffer a death, whether literal or figurative, can we ever truly be reborn into a new life without confronting the demons that insatiably consume us?
About HyeGyeong Choi
HyeGyeong Choi (b. 1986, Seoul) is a New York–based artist exploring the intersection of personal and social issues related to body image, gender and sexuality, and cultural identity in her paintings. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Chung Ang University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has been included in exhibitions at Zolla/Liberman Gallery, Chicago; Green Door, Chicago; Sine Projects, Brooklyn, NY; and many others.
About Margaret Carrigan
Based between New York and London, Margaret Carrigan (b. 1987, Illinois) is a freelance writer, editor and critic who focuses on gender, identity, and technology in contemporary art. She contributes regularly to the New York Observer, as well as Artnet News, Artsy, Elephant, Galerie, and Hyperallergic, among other publications.