London and Seoul-based Korean artist Meekyoung Shin (b.1967) is internationally renowned for her sculptures that probe the mis- and re-translations that often emerge when objects of distinct cultural and historical specificity are dislocated from their original context. Made from soap, her works replicate artifacts and canonical works of art, from Asian porcelain vases to Greek and Roman sculptures, translating between continents, cultures, and centuries in the process. Meekyoung Shin was born in South Korea and completed her BFA and MFA at Seoul National University. In 1995, she moved to London to obtain her MFA at the Slade School of Art, University College London, and has since held solo exhibitions internationally including at Haunch of Venison, London (2010) and the Korean Cultural Centre UK, London (2013). She has participated in numerous group shows including at the Museum of Art and Design, New York, and the 2013 Asian Art Biennial in Taiwan. Her works are found in collections all over the world, including the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea. Shin was nominated for the Korea Artist Prize 2013. In this new monograph on the artist, Jonathan Watkins sets the scene for Shin''s solo exhibition at the Korean Cultural Center UK in London in late autumn 2013, a stone''s throw from Nelson''s Column and the ''Fourth Plinth'' commission of Trafalgar Square. Context is essential to Shin''s practice, and indeed, to her identity. As she asserts: "e;I often identify myself as someone on the border between cultures"e;. Watkins eloquently introduces Shin''s major bodies of work whilst capturing the cultural complexity, exquisite craftsmanship, conceptual elegance, and natural wit embodied within them.An essay by Ben Tufnell explores the cultural and historical references in Shin''s work over the past fifteen years. Taking Shin''s solo exhibition at Haunch of Venison in London in 2011 as his point of departure, he opens up questions of anthropology and museology, of what is exhibited where and when, by and for whom. His incisive analysis of Crouching Aphrodite (2002) - a life-size sculpture of the artist''s own body in the pose of the classical Venus of Vienne from the Louvre - raises issues of Eastern and Western culture, of originality and copying: "e;Being neither fully Asian nor fully Roman it inhabits a cultural limbo space."e; Tufnell explains, "e;Shin''s works are not simply replicas or reproductions but strange twins, uncanny avatars of their precursors."e;Curator and art historian Kyung An''s text offers an illuminating account of Shin''s Written in Soap: A Plinth Project (2012-ongoing), which takes the form of a remarkable public art project in which the artist recreates - out of soap - a large equestrian military statue of Prince William Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland, that once stood in Cavendish Square, London. Having initiated a project that contributes to debates on public monument building, Shin then created subsequent versions of the sculpture for display in Seoul and Taipei. As An asks, "e;what becomes of the monument when it is transplanted to a national museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art five thousand miles away?"e;Jade Keunhye Lim''s essay unpicks the various strands of Shin''s Translation Series, from the classical Greek sculptures through to Toilet Project (2004-ongoing) - in which portrait busts made of soap are placed in the washrooms of galleries and museums for visitors to use when washing their hands - and Weathering Project (2009-ongoing), in which Shin locates her soap sculptures outdoors for them to be slowly eroded by the elements. Via cultural imperialism and the tastes of the affluent classes of the West, Keunhye Lim questions the value systems of objects and the logic of their accession into museums - questions that underpin Shin''s practice. How is beauty, cultural significance, and financial value constructed, and how does this translate across cultures and time? This monograph, beautifully illustrated with over fifty color and black and white images, was published by Anomie Publishing in collaboration with the Korean Cultural Centre UK, London, on the occasion of ''Unfixed: A solo exhibition by Meekyoung Shin'', held at the KCC from 12 November 2013 to 18 January 2014, curated by Jonathan Watkins.
Art & Fashion