Anicka Yi

Anicka Yi's work operates around a series of connections between materials and materialism, states of perishability and their relationship to meaning and value, consumerist digestion and cultural metabolism, stomachs as a biological metaphor for both the individual and society, scent and the fragrance industry as memory machine and post-humanist theory with it's sociopolitical implications for the body and the senses.

Her interest in the sensorial stems from a desire to reorder and reconfigure the spatial and experiential terms of a predominately visual art world. Scent and tactility are two recurring themes in her work. Midcentury Olfactory Brutalism provokes one to touch - what would it be like to touch a potato chip in the context where you are not suppose to touch. And That Fork Feels Good Sliding in My Mouth is a canvas made from a scented soap. The soap paintings are a statement on Bed Bath & Beyond or designer consumer culture in general, I.e. personal hygiene, luxury, olfactory décor. Using the prescribed (overdetermined?) forms of canvas/stretcher bar in the form of painting is a statement on "art" as decorative, hygienic (spiritual, intellectual) aspiration. The painting's scent is a trigger of located/un-located memory and association. It draws you into a perplexing comfort while simultaneously the cold minimal canvas deters the viewer from closer proximity -  an invisible boundary of the art world. The visual experience tends to distance the viewer. The Kantian critique of aesthetic judgment assumes the role of the viewer to be one of distance and disinterestedness. The olfactory, on the other hand, encourages nearness, breaking barriers of conventional experiences of art.  A "painting" has a "coded" distance built in. Yi's work confronts the hegemony of the visual in the art world and counters it through sensorial pieces.

As a result the dichotomy between the archival, permanent, agelessness of art and the perishable, transient, contemporary plays a role in Yi's work. The perishability of her materials exposes an uneasy relationship to the “value” often associated with art.

Each sculpture is a poem in one sense. A language building. A game of senses and signifiers. For instance, in the sculpture You Should Hire Me Because My Kiss Is On Your List, MSG fills one of the metal bowls. Why MSG?  MSG could always just be the right grain of powder but it could also be something else. It's neither nor. Depends on the syntax. There's no right answer for why MSG? It's equivalent to asking why De Kooning used red in Woman Painting. It could be that MSG was used because it happened to be in a shop downstairs from 179 Canal where the sculpture was composed. It could also be that MSG is very commonly used in Asian foods. The materiality is about the triangulations between the thing-itself as an aesthetic object, the language and the social/visual implications of the things. A Peircean semiotics. 

Anicka Yi lives and works in New York. Her work has been exhibited in group exhibitions at White Columns, NY; Bortolomi, NY; The Artist’s Institute, NY; Karma International, Zurich; Gavin Brown’s enterprise, NY; The X-Initiative, NY  as well as two person shows at 179 Canal, NY; and solo shows at Rüdiger Schöttle Gallery, Munich; The Green Gallery, Milwaukee; and 47 Canal, NY.


Selected Works:

Midcentury Olfactory Brutalism, 2010 
Anicka Yi
Light box, transparency paper, potato chips, ground potato chip dust 
24 x 21 inches

That Fork Feels Good Sliding in My Mouth, 2010 
Anicka Yi
Glycerin soap, essential oils, wood stretcher bars 
14 x 18 inches

Reconciling The Keyhole of Speculative Frenzy, 2010
Anicka Yi 
Glycerin soap, essential oils and wood stretcher bars 
14 x 18 inches

Convox Dialer Double Distance Of A Shining Path, 2011 
Anicka Yi
Recalled powdered milk, abolished math, antidepressants, palm tree essence, shaved sea lice, 
ground Teva rubber dust, Korean thermal clay, steeped Swatch watch, aluminum pot,
cell phone signal jammer and electric burner 
23 x 15 x 15 inches

You Should Hire Me (Because My Kiss Is On Your List) Part 2, 2011 
Anicka Yi
Hair gel, msg, stainless steel bowls and mixed media Dimensions variable

Anicka Yi

235,681K of Digital Spit, 2010 
Anicka Yi
PVC and leather bag, hair gel, tripe 
10 x 14 x 20 inches