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Poetry from the Hardware Store
Haegue Yang at Museum Ludwig in Cologne

She is among the world’s most popular artists. With her installations and sculptures consisting of Venetian blinds, clothes racks, and fans, Haegue Yang has been shown in numerous important exhibitions since the mid-2000s, ranging from the 2009 Venice Biennale, where she was the artist of the South Korean pavilion, to documenta 2012 in Kassel, to the current Biennale of Sydney. The artist, who is represented in the Deutsche Bank Collection, was recently awarded the Wolfgang Hahn Prize. On this occasion, Museum Ludwig in Cologne has mounted a comprehensive retrospective encompassing more than 120 of her works.
After studying sculpture in Seoul, Haegue Yang went to Frankfurt in 1994 to do her postgraduate studies at the Städelschule. The art school’s sculpture studio is situated in an industrial area, where the artist discovered a large hardware store. This store quickly became her favorite source of material. From then on, she mainly worked with industrial products: cables, light bulbs, euro pallets. But Venetian blinds, which she set into motion with motors at the documenta 2012, became here hallmark. “There is a mysteriousness and spirituality in the most banal things,” Yang once said.

Naturally, Yang’s dancing blinds are also on view in Cologne, together with her popular sculptures from the series Boxing Ballet, which are reminiscent of the stylized figures in Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet. But the museum is also showing lesser-known works such as her lacquer pictures on wood and her Trustworthies, collages she makes using security patterns printed on the insides of envelopes in which banks send credit cards and PIN numbers. Yang assembles them into dynamic compositions that recall the geometric abstractions from early Modernism.

The exhibition is called ETA, which stands for “Estimated Time of Arrival.” The curator Yilmaz Dziewior views the title as a reference to the artist’s constant travel from one location to the next. Yang has studios in Seoul and Berlin, and in recent years has been present at many international exhibitions.  Anyone who has seen her large exhibition in Cologne knows why Haegue Yang has been omnipresent in recent years: Her works are both conceptual and poetic—and at the same time they are extremely beautiful.  

Haegue Yang
ETA. 1994–2018

April 18  – August 12, 2018
Museum Ludwig, Köln