An Artist Welcomes You With the Instruments of Play Remedy
As I traversed Dawning: mud, seeds, Coplees, Seoul-born, New York-based artist Mimi Park’s environmental set up at Lubov, I observed the gallerist duct taping a contemporary battery to one of many two vibrating toothbrush heads — with pipe cleaner accents, they resembled fishing flies — that roamed a small clearing. “Coplee Swarm” (2022) is generally extra populous however at this time battery loss of life had thinned the herd, the gallerist defined because the creatures executed a haphazard pas de deux. Whereas he brandished a pressurized mister on the rainbow radish sprouts that, over the course of the exhibition, had grown to carpet the paper pulp snaking alongside the ground, I requested him whether or not a spherical terrarium atop a plaster pedestal, “Coplee Sign Transmitter Tower” (2022), was supposed to be kinetic, noting the battery pack dangling from its facet. “Motor’s damaged,” he confirmed.
The artist MacGyvered her small-scale sonic, kinetic, and fog-emitting bricolages, that are variously activated by the viewer’s presence or a timer, utilizing a mixture of discovered objects, toys, motors, sensors, and craft supplies. She then collaborated with mates to manufacture the animatronic sculptures’ site-specific habitat of open, multicolored yarn-and-resin ambulatories over pungent swathes of fast-growing microgreens. Park, who visits recurrently to make repairs, remodeled the smaller of the 2 gallery areas right into a Studio Room (2022) with something that she would possibly want to repair her set up — neatly specified by clusters by kind — together with skeins of yarn, small clay figures, binder clips, a sea of buttons, patches of moss, baggies of mica powder, and (inexplicably to me) a hamster wheel and dried citrus slices. Within the bigger gallery house, the artist’s workshop manifests within the type of studio particles included into sculptures.
I don’t consider that Park is essentially invested within the politics of failure and mechanical breakdowns. Her work’s rejection of easy operation and concomitant circumstances of productiveness, pragmatism, performance, rationality, and, above all, that artwork market darling, slickness, appears as an alternative tied up with an curiosity within the DIY creation and sustenance of an open-ended, experimental ecosystem, a non-hierarchical house of aimless exploratory interactions — in brief, play.
With out adopting explicitly therapeutic or psychological goals, the set up exudes the welcoming curiosity that we would affiliate with artwork remedy and play remedy (not coincidentally, Park practices artwork remedy with adolescents). As a substitute of merely viewing the setting, the gallery-goer is prompted to enter the participatory, relational muck of it: making actions or noises to discern whether or not a bell will clang towards the inside of a pot in response, for instance, or crouching all the way down to a toddler’s peak to have interaction, at scale, a small drumhead topped with colourful mica powder that vibrates practically imperceptibly. This work asks us to be attuned in an embodied approach, with out dictating how that attunement, or the physique behind it, ought to function.
I questioned the obvious randomness of some materials and aesthetic selections, such because the inclusion of static human figures, usually topped by clay heads with faces; the frozen dolls’ comparative literalism didn’t fairly gel with the present’s perceptual and experiential thrust. However the magnificence within the invocation to discover with full-bodied curiosity the unusual little universe that Park had set in movement made these qualms really feel like reasonably small potatoes.
Mimi Park: Dawning: mud, seeds, Coplees continues at Lubov (5 East Broadway #402, Chinatown, Manhattan) by way of April 16. The exhibition was organized by the gallery.