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Article

Lee Bul  

Joan Kee

(b Yongwol, Kangwon Province, Jan 25, 1964).

Korean mixed media and performance artist. Lee studied sculpture at Hongik University in Seoul. Upon graduation Lee staged performance-based works in venues throughout Seoul and Tokyo during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Many of these performances concerned the subject of the human body and deployed the strategy of masquerade to parody and hyperbolize masculine representations of women. At this time Lee also began creating sculptural installations that marked the beginning of her long-standing use of such non-traditional materials as resin, sequins, foam, and rubber. Such materials were often used for their symbolic associations as well as their formal properties.

From around 1996, Lee moved towards an exploration of the imagined body. The references that Lee drew upon became increasingly abstract, although she consistently maintained her interest in exploring the role of formal qualities, such as colour, scale, and texture, in producing meaning. Lee moved from works such as I Need You/Hydra...

Article

Klaus Ottmann

(b Detroit, MI, May 10, 1932; d Cairo, Egypt, June 23, 1997).

American sculptor, performance artist, and installation artist. Byars spent his formative years in Japan (1958–68) where he learnt to appreciate the ephemeral as a valued quality in art and embrace the ceremonial as a continuing mode in his life and work. He adapted the highly sensual, abstract, and symbolic practices found in Japanese Noh theatre and Shinto rituals to Western science, art, and philosophy. One of his most important works of that period is Untitled Object (Runcible) (1962–4), also known as The Performable Square, a 46 cm cube consisting of 1000 sheets of white flax paper that unfold into a 15×15 m white plane divided by 32 parallel strips connected at the top with paper hinges. It was first exhibited, folded, in 1964 at the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, in the centre of the museum floor, placed on a sheet of glass, but not ‘performed’ (i.e. unfolded) until 14 years later, in ...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Japan and the USA.

Born 8 December 1957, in Quanzhou City (Fujian Province).

Painter, draughtsman, mixed media, video artist, installation artist, performance artist.

Cai Guo-Qiang trained in stage design at the Shanghai drama institute from 1981 to 1985...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Great Britain.

Born 1965, in China.

Performance artist, installation artist.

Cai Yuan immigrated to Great Britain in the 1980s, obtaining art degrees from the Chelsea College of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art in London. He is best known for his partnership with his fellow Chinese artist and émigré Xi Jianjun (also known as JJ Xi) in the performance duo known as Mad for Real. Cai and Xi found fame in ...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in the United States and China.

Born 1955, in Shanghai.

Performance artist, installation artist. Mixed media.

Wenda studied at the Shanghai School of Arts and Crafts, from which he graduated in 1976, and subsequently studied for his M.F.A. at the China Academy of Art under the renowned painter Lu Yanshao. After graduating in ...

Article

Melissa Chiu

(b Quanzhou, Dec 8, 1957).

Chinese installation artist. Cai studied at the Shanghai Theatre Academy, completing his degree in stage design in 1985. He is best known for ephemeral, large-scale explosion-works using gunpowder—a medium he began to experiment with in China and often explained as a childhood reference to witnessing skirmishes between China and Taiwan along what was known as the Fujian Front.

In the 1980s, he applied gunpowder to canvas, which he then lit to create bold, charred designs. When Cai emigrated to Japan in 1986, he began to use gunpowder for environmental installations. Since 1989 he called these works Projects for Extraterrestrials. Cai believed that most explosions visible from space have been related to war, and that his work sends a non-violent message. A good example is The Horizon from the Pan Pacific: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 14 (1994), executed off the coast of Iwaki, a small town in Japan, where Cai installed a 5000-metre trail of gunpowder in the ocean that illuminated the horizon. The work evoked the experience of living in this small fishing village, where the ocean is a central part of everyday life. Such a conceptually charged, yet rudimentary application of gunpowder, characterizes Cai’s works created in Japan....

Article

Japanese, 20th century, male.

Painter, decorative artist, installation artist, performance artist. Multimedia.

Hibino Katsuhito graduated from the design division of the fine arts department of Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music in 1982. He takes part in group exhibitions. He took part in the Sixth Sydney Biennial, and exhibited his work in a one-man show at Hajuku, Japan, in ...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1964, in Hong Kong.

Performance artist. Mixed media, multimedia.

Ho Siu Kee received a B.A. in Fine Arts from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (1989), an M.F.A. in Sculpture from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan (1995), and a Ph.D. in Fine Art from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia (2003). At the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Ho worked closely with Cheung Yee (born 1936), a sculptor well known for his cast paper murals and geometric forms reminiscent of traditional Chinese pictograms and motifs.

Ho is especially interested in the interaction of the human body with space. This has led him to devise a number of gadgets that have the appearance of prosthetic objects. These objects are intended to destabilize the body by placing it in situations that are beyond the normal ambit of the human body. For instance, in ...

Article

Rachel K. Ward

(b Gifu, 1966).

Japanese electronic composer and sound artist, active also in France. He is best known for composing reductionist sounds of extreme frequencies, employing sine waves, electronic sounds, and white noise; these are often presented as ambient soundscapes in immersive installations made of light and/or projected visualizations of data. Ikeda originally trained in Japan as an economist. He began composing music in the 1990s, focusing on Minimalism with a curiosity for the duality of mathematics, specifically the binary patterns of 0s and 1s of digital software. His compositions continued the investigations of John Cage and Morton Feldman in exploring the potential differences between tones. Ikeda’s initial albums were +/- (1996) and 0°C (1998), which resonated with the glitch electronic scene emerging at that time. In 2000 Ikeda’s album Matrix, on the Touch label, attracted considerable attention as an interactive electronic work. Ikeda presented ten 5-minute long tones affected by the listener’s proximity. These were followed by a second series of tones made from orchestral instruments to produce overlapping sounds. The album explored time and tone and generated a wider discussion in the music industry about the relationship between sound and new media formats. Ikeda later produced the albums ...

Article

Korean, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in the USA.

Born 1957, in Taegu.

Installation artist, sculptor, performance artist, video artist.

Kim Soo-ja settled in New York. She uses Korean cloth in her work, which she folds, crumples or hangs; for her the fabric has symbolic weight, one tied to the culture of her country. The cloth becomes a metaphorical relation with her body. Rolled in a bundle to form a ...

Article

Japanese, 20th century, female.

Active in the USA 1960–1975 (naturalised in 1966).

Born 1929, in Nagano.

Painter, sculptor, installation artist, performance artist.

Yayoi Kusama graduated from the Kyoto school of fine arts in 1949. She moved to New York in 1957, where she enrolled in the Art Students League and became active in anti-war demonstrations and newspaper and film production. Her film ...

Article

Midori Yamamura

(b Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefect., March 22, 1929).

Japanese painter, sculptor, poet, writer, printmaker, installation, and performance artist, active also in the USA.

Growing up under Japan’s World War II totalitarian regime, Kusama believed art could help her nurture a more humane worldview. She began taking private art lessons at the age of 13. Between 1952 and 1955, she had six solo exhibitions. In 1955 Kusama wrote to artists Kenneth Callahan and Georgia O’Keeffe in the United States and Callahan helped organize her first United States solo exhibition in Seattle (1957).

After Seattle, Kusama moved to New York in 1958, where she launched her career alongside the second generation Abstract Expressionists. In 1959 she developed a series of paintings called Infinity Nets; large horizontal works featuring obsessively repeated small arcs. At solo exhibitions in New York (1959, Brata Gallery; 1961, Stephen Radich Gallery), she only showed white, wall-sized works from the series. Appearing void from a distance, her huge paintings forced viewers to come closer, disallowing their objectification, while permitting each viewer an intimate experience. These works made a strong impression on the New York scene, with Frank Stella and a future Minimalist Donald Judd buying her works....

Article

Korean, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 1964, in Yongwol.

Sculptor, installation artist, performance artist, draughtswoman.

Lee Bul graduated from Hong-Ik University in Seoul with a bachelor of fine arts in sculpture. She settled in Seoul. Lee seeks to explore feminine archetypes by creating a universe inhabited by monsters and imaginary creatures based on Korean legends and contemporary technology (notably cyborgs), or manga imagery. She has also used her own nude body in her performances. Whether making unliveable, solitary cubicles - as in her karaoke pods - or strolling about in one or other of her outlandish costumes, she tries to destabilise established values through her objects and creatures. For instance, in her sculpture ...

Article

Japanese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 16 January 1957, in Tokyo.

Installation artist, performance artist.

Miyajima recreates the frenzy of modern life through his art, making installations of electronic components and digital LED counters which create the effect of vibration and agitation.

2000, Between Cinema and a Hard Place...

Article

Catherine M. Grant

revised by Jennifer Way

(b Tokyo, Feb 21, 1967).

Japanese photographer, video artist, performance artist, sculptor, installation artist and painter. Mori studied fashion at the Bunka Fashion Institute in Tokyo from 1986 to 1988 and worked part-time as a model before moving to London to study at the Shaw School of Art (1988–9) and the Chelsea College of Art (1989–92), where she earned a BFA. In New York she participated in the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1992–3). In 1994 Mori returned to Tokyo and began making large digital photographs and videos in which she appears as a ‘shaman, mermaid, cyber-geisha and visitor from the future’ (Johnson, p. 56). Subsequently, she assembled teams of stylists, photographers, computer imagists, sound technicians and fabricators along with musicians and scientists to create immersive multimedia installations consisting of digital photography, music, video, cinematic spatial effects, abstract biomorphic sculptural forms, paintings and scent, engaging users and responding to data and environmental stimuli. She exhibited her art in biennale exhibitions throughout the world, for example, in Singapore, Venice, Shanghai, Sydney, Kwangju, Istanbul and Lyon. From ...

Article

Japanese, 20th century, female.

Active in the USA.

Born 1933, in Tokyo.

Painter, sculptor, performance artist.

Neo-Dadaism, Fluxus.

After settling in New York, Yoko Ono initially took an active role in the Fluxus group, organising concerts (particularly of La Monte Young) and putting up artists from the group (George Brecht, Allan Kaprow, George Segal). After marrying the singer John Lennon of the Beatles, she broke off from her own activities as an artist and took part in demonstrations for peace and for the emancipation of women. Following the assassination of her husband, she returned to her work as an artist....

Article

Korean, 20th century, male.

Active in Germany and the USA.

Born 20 June 1932, in Seoul; died 29 January 2006, in Miami.

Installation artist, performance artist, video artist. Multimedia.

Neo-Dadaism, Fluxus, Cyber Art.

Paik Nam June’s family fled to Hong Kong, and later to Japan at the onslaught of the Korean War. He studied the history of art and music in Tokyo and continued his musical studies at Munich University and Freiburg Conservatory. During his studies, he was introduced to electronic music by Karlheinz Stockhausen and became friends with John Cage. In ...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in Berlin and Beijing.

Born 1954, in Qingdao (Shandong Province), China.

Performance artist. Mixed media and multimedia.

Qin Yufen grew up during the Cultural Revolution in China. In the 1970s, she experimented with abstraction and participated in the exhibitions of the No Name Painting Society, founded by Zhao Wenliang and Yang Yushu. Qin Yufen was one of the few female members of the society. By the early 1980s, Qin Yufen had already developed ideas for a number of installation projects. Many of these projects were executed after she moved to Berlin in ...

Article

Japanese, 20th century, female.

Born 1929, in Sabae-Shi.

Draughtswoman, collage artist, photomontage artist, performance artist. Artists’ books.

Fluxus.

After studying in Japan, Takako Saito went to the USA in 1963 where she made the acquaintance of George Maciunas and completed her education at the Brooklyn Museum Art School. In ...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1966, in Beijing.

Performance artist, installation artist, video artist.

Shortly after his 1989 graduation from the fine arts department at Capital Normal University, Beijing, Song Dong embarked upon a series of intrinsically ephemeral activities and performances for which his own body, his own breath, and water served as artistic materials. In ...