© Images Cheonho Ahn
DAVID ZINK YI
PLAYING UNTIL FAILURE
21 MAY – 17 JUNE 2023
KÖNIG SEOUL is pleased to present an exhibition by David Zink Yi, PLAYING UNTIL FAILURE, the artist’s first solo presentation in Korea. The show consists of over a dozen ceramic works, including the sprawling ALL MY COLOURS, a multi-part collection of serially repeated ceramic forms, each with their own unique glaze, which is also on view at the Gwangju Biennial. Additionally, a short 16mm film loop, PNEUMA, 2010, will be shown, which features Yuliesky Gonzalez Guerra, a longtime collaborator and musician. The loop guides viewers to the centrality of the hand within the show at large, as well as the act of breathing through, which is displayed through Gonzalez Guerra’s instrument as it approaches the camera. PNEUMA helps to contextualize the ceramic sculptures, as it foregrounds performance, sound, and direct engagement with the artist’s hands, all central features of his varied practice.
Zink Yi’s artistic practice follows an orthodox trajectory, from video work to sculpture to ceramics and even silk fabrics, newly created especially for Seoul. The journey through these various media nonetheless orbits around some common themes – sound and performance key among them – which began as he turned the camera on his own body in his earliest pieces through to longer-format investigations of musicians in Cuba and his native Peru. Having studied under Lothar Baumgarten in Berlin, the field of ethnographic research was front and center, which the artist cleverly reformulated into a kind of self-ethnography, as he worked to come to terms with his own complex heritage. A descendant of Indigenous Peruvians as well as Chinese, Italian, and German immigrants, the artist’s own body was already a nexus of postcoloniality.
The migratory nature of Zink Yi’s practice is highlighted by the degree to which certain forms are repeated or reused to create entirely new bodies of work. In one of the most recent investigations, the artist took high-resolution images of his ALL MY COLOURS ceramics and printed them on large silk fabrics, which are then displayed as hybrid objects that hang or drape over other pieces or presented alone. In essence, the act of covering or clothing is maintained in the silk works, only its use and display are altered, highlighting the inherent complexity and transformational potential in each element of Zink Yi’s art. There is no one, final statement offered; rather, multiplicity is inherent in each form.
Larger sculptural ceramics are also on display, engaging more directly through scale and movement with the body of the artist and viewers. These works are porous, open to the spaces around them as well as to the other objects on display, and reinforce the protean nature of Zink Yi’s mode of artistic inquiry. Each element of these larger works is rendered with an eye toward the transparency of its creation, hiding nothing from view, and imploring us to get close to its making. This is a musical understanding of the sculptural work, where polyphony is key – that many voices exist simultaneously – requiring the participation and involvement of a multitude.