Souterrain (entrance detail)
2012 by Lee Bul
LEE BUL, Mudam Luxembourg 2013-14
Born into the military dictatorship of South Korea, Lee Bul’s art is understandably reactive. Bul’s work is caught between a push-pull of wanting to look forward, but tainted with the history of what she has had to leave behind. This preoccupation is visualised in her most recent work with the inviting gleam of reflective surface; futuristic and glitteringly seductive, yet deliberately fragmented, these shards reflect our troubled world back at us. Diluvium, in Bul’s own words is her “monster installation”, which took over KCCUK’s windowed space that looks over Northumberland Avenue in September 2014. The walls and floor were covered in a mirror-effect vinyl that, unlike the crystal clarity of a mirror, was a mottled silver blur; encompassing and absorbing, we are never quite sure where each surface begins or ends. The floor itself rises and falls at various angles, mounting upwards in terrific shapes that give the installation a performative energy; it appears to grow and break free – cyborg-like, monster-like – before us. Highly reflective silver tape is then drawn between surfaces, multiple lines that fragment the space, as well as giving the ‘monster’s’ immense energy a visual dynamism. The tape’s sharp edge, intermittently ripped to create thinner, more deadly and jagged razors, contrasts to the softly textured silver of the walls; we are presented with two juxtaposing sides of reflection. Diluvium, a term used to describe superficial deposits formed by catastrophic flood-like actions of water, puts a poignant twist on the energy that pulses through these lines. The side-effects of action must be accounted for; no matter how seemingly beautiful, a shard of glass has a sharp edge.