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Nina Yuen: White Blindness

Lombard-Freid Projects
518 West 19th Street, 212-967-8040
April 15 - May 27, 2010
Reception: Thursday, April 15, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Lombard-Freid Projects is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of Amsterdam-based, American artist Nina Yuen. Yuen (b. 1981, Hawaii) approaches video as a tactile medium. Her seductively honest and visually striking narratives weave elements of her personal relationships with found stories and appropriated personae.

For this show, the main gallery space will become a cinema showcasing a selection of Yuen’s recent videos in sequence. The artist states, “My work as a filmmaker engages with the production of false personal memories and with stirring disagreements about the past in the accounts of my family and friends. I regard myself primarily as a passive artist; my work is created at the intersection of a recorded document and a lifestyle that I adopt. For the taping of each film, I live for at least a week in a constructed environment, with its own conventions governing ceremony, behavior, and dress. My work and living in my studio demand that there be no distinction between my personal and artistic development; I view my life as more than a subject.”

Yuen’s films are unabashedly romantic and quietly profound assemblages of performance, spoken monologue, soundtrack and montage, which create a flux of vivid imagery and feeling. In Alison, the loose narrative is inspired by a story of the artist’s childhood friend who wandered off one winter without a coat and was found dead months later. The piece incorporates the artist’s voice-over of an excerpt from the missing persons report filed by his mother (Alison), a snippet of Virginia Woolf’s suicide note, and a poem by Raymond Carver. As in many of Yuen’s films, a dream-like quality pervades the fragmented stories and richly textured visual elements.

Don takes as its subject the breakup of the artist’s mother with her ex-husband. Yuen recorded her mother speaking about various relationships and memories throughout her life, which the artist then transcribed and taped to the ceiling of her studio as cue cards. Yuen narrates the piece by lip-synching her mother’s words. The artist plays multiple characters in the video, creating a temporal disjunction between the stories as recalled by her mother and Yuen’s acting out their retelling.

White Blindness, a condition that causes one to see nothing but a white glare, is a film for which Yuen transformed her studio/living space into a completely white space as a way to experience the phenomenon. Blurring the line between her work and her life, for one year, anything she bought she spray-painted white. Preoccupied with naming and ordering, Yuen’s voice-over includes a history of the term “post-traumatic stress disorder”, instructions for an Islamic bathing ritual and an essay by Joan Acocella. As a lyrical gesture, Yuen invents props to carry out her idiosyncratic versions of everyday routines. In Clean, she proposes alternatives to conventions of daily hygiene. The idiom “instead of” becomes the operative element in this work, emphasizing the deliberate transgression of accepted social behavior by creating one’s own set of rules to follow.

Nina Yuen completed her BA at Harvard University and a residency at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Recent exhibitions include, An Imaginary Relationship with Ourselves, Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Oregon; Performance, Manifestacao Internacional, Belo Horizonte, Brazil; De-narrations, PanAmerican Art Projects, Miami, Florida; The Sky Within My House, Contemporary Art Patios, Cordoba, Spain.
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