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Walls to Talk to: Exhibition at the MMK Zollamt unites a selection of works by Jewyo Rhii
Jewyo Rhii, Fence (Itaewon), 2010-2011 und Fence (Frankfurt am Main), 2013. Installationsansicht MMK Frankfurt, Courtesy the artist and Galerie Ursula Walbröl, Düsseldorf, Foto: Axel Schneider.
FRANKFURT.- The exhibition “Walls to Talk To” now being presented at the MMK Zollamt — a part of the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main — unites a selection of works by the artist Jewyo Rhii (b. 1971) of the past fifteen years with new works executed during her stay of several weeks in Frankfurt. A native of Korea, since the beginning of her artistic career Rhii has repeatedly shifted her life focus between Asia, the U.S. and Europe. This constant change of venue and the uncertainties that accompany it constitute a major underlying factor in her work.

In the main gallery of the MMK Zollamt, works from Rhii's project Night Studio (2009–11) form the core of the show. During a three-year residency on the bustling market street in the Itaewon district of Seoul, the artist opened her flat to the public four times and invited visitors to immerse themselves in her artistic as well as her personal world. With the opening of her private living space, she wanted to explore the various possibilities of an exhibition beyond the ordinary conventions of the exhibition space. For the MMK Zollamt, Jewyo Rhii reconstructed parts of her apartment in Itaewon. Chandeliers, doors, pieces of linoleum, lattice fences and a large number of other elements in the installation are references to her former living space and, in keeping with the artist's concept, to be read as physical memories. “For Rhii, the body remembers places and things more strongly than the mind. In Night Studio, the boundaries between domestic objects, private space, artwork and exhibition are deliberately blurred. The juxtaposition of private and public space is an important aspect of the artist's work”, explains exhibition curator Peter Gorschlüter. Among the many elements from Rhii's apartment incorporated into the installation at the MMK Zollamt are a number of typewriters created by the artist herself, and used by her to print texts she had composed onto the walls by corporal means.

Wind blows through the exhibition room, generated by a large number of ventilators directed at blocks of ice which gradually melt. The melt water drips into various types of receptacles, creating a kind of soundscape with the various dripping sounds. Jewyo Rhii used the ventilators and ice blocks in her apartment in Seoul as a cooling system, a home-made air conditioner. She also created her own cinema, which is driven by a ventilator motor. The film drum of the makeshift cinema documents scenes from Rhii's time in Itaewon.

In addition to Night Studio, the artist is also presenting two other long-term projects in the show: Jewyo Rhii's need to translate spaces and emotions and experience them on the physical level comes to bear in a special way in Moving Floor (2009–13). Occupying a large portion of the MMK Zollamt space, the work consists of a floor on wheels which moves under the viewer's feet. Rhii constructed it from her memory of the floor in her flat in Itaewon. For the exhibition at the MMK Zollamt, she supplemented it with found objects accumulated here in Frankfurt and materials from DIY markets. The visitor is invited to walk on the floor.

The video installation Lie on the Han River (2005–13) tells the story of two lovers who meet regularly on the bank of the Han River in Seoul until winter comes and they go their separate ways. Lie on the Han River is a poetic visualization of a love letter the woman writes to the man asking him to come back.

In the adjacent room, the series Two (1999–2002) is on display. The drawings show various physical exercises to be carried out by two persons for the mutual relief of pain and suffering. The artist herself says about these works: “In Two I developed a system by which bodies in pain can connect with one another to their mutual benefit.” The drawings were originally not intended for exhibition but for publication in book form. For the exhibition, Rhii expanded the series with further drawings and is presenting them in the form of an installation.

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