Haegue Yang

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Haegue Yang
Revised RomanizationYang Hyegyu
McCune–ReischauerYang Hyekyu

Haegue Yang (Hangul양혜규) (born December 12, 1971) is a South Korean artist. She lives and works in Berlin and Seoul. Yang often uses standard household objects in her works, and tries to liberate them from their functional context, and apply other connotations and meaning to them.[1] “Linguistic and didactic processes” are central features of her work.[1] Much of Yang’s artworks attempt to provide sensory experiences through abstract narratives.


Yang was born in South Korea in 1971. Her father, Hansoo Yang, is a journalist and her mother, Misoon Kim, is a writer.[2] Yang received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree (B.F.A.) in 1994 from the Seoul National University in Korea. In 1999, she received her Master's (Meisterschüler) in Städelschule Frankfurt am Main in Germany. Yang is based in Berlin and Seoul, so she often travels between the two cities. Her main studio is located in Kreuzberg, Germany.


After receiving her B.F.A., Yang moved to Berlin and began her artistic career in the late nineties. She is known for her creative use of the Venetian blinds in her works. She uses mundane objects and materials to create “complex and nuanced installations that are informed by poetry, politics, and human emotions”.[3] Among her numerous art pieces, she has worked with laundry racks, decorative lights, infrared heaters, scent emitters, and industrial fans.[3]

Yang is a contemporary artist exhibiting in various countries including the United States, France, Italy, England, Spain, China, and Japan. She dedicates most of her time creating new art pieces and working on exhibitions. She has also written and collaborated on many published works that correspond with the exhibitions she displayed. In 2013, Yang had seven solo shows on three different continents, three publications, and other group exhibitions in that year as well.[4] Yang has participated in the 2006 São Paulo Art Biennial, the 55th Carnegie International in Pittsburgh, the 2008 Turin Triennale, represented South Korea in the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009, and participated in dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany in 2012.[3] Yang’s first exhibition in the United States, titled "Brave New Worlds", was at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2007.[3] In 2015, Haegue Yang participated in the Biennale de Lyon, the Sharjah Biennial and the 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art. The artist also had institutional exhibitions in Asia, at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, and the Leuum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul.


Arrivals (2011)[edit]

For this solo exhibition, Yang occupied three floors of the gallery in Kunsthaus Bregenz. On the first floor, she exhibited past works including Fishing (1995), a small lacquer painting, a video trilogy: Unfolding Places (2004), Restrained Courage (2004), and Squandering Negative Spaces (2006), Gymnastics of the Foldables (2006), and Three Kinds in Transition (2008).[5] On the second floor, her Venetian blind installation, Cittadella (2011), occupied the entire space.[5] On the third floor, Yang set up an exhibit titled Warrior Believer Lover (2011) which consisted of thirty-three light sculptures built on wheeled stands.[6]

Approaching: Choreography Engineered in Never-Past Tense (2012)[edit]

This exhibition was part of the dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany. Documenta is an art exhibition held every five years in Kassel that displays modern and contemporary art. Yang’s exhibition revealed electrically-controlled Venetian blinds that were carefully choreographed to move in distinct patterns, and the mechanism looped after the sequence was finished.[7]


Accommodating the Epic Dispersion – On Non-cathartic Volume of Dispersion (2012)[edit]

This art piece was displayed in the Haus der Kunst as part of Der Öffentlichkeit – von den Freunden Haus der Kunst exhibit. Yang used colorful Venetian blinds that hung from the ceiling in various angles. Depending on where the visitor stood, the blinds appeared opaque, semi-opaque, or transparent.[8] The title of the artwork was chosen to represent the narratives of people of diaspora. For example, Yang read the biographies of figures such as the Korean-Japanese essayist, Kyungsik Suh, and Italian-Jewish chemist and author, Primo Levi, and was inspired to create the title of her work.[8]

Sonic Figures (2013)[edit]

For this series of works, Yang was influenced by Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet from 1922.[9] The Sonic Figures are intricate sculptures made by using brass-plated bells on steel stands. These works were part of an exhibition called Journal of Echomimetic Motions displayed in Bergen Kunsthall, Norway. These sculptures embody ideas of mobility and Yang “negates the static furnishings of the exhibition space with its fixed installations and carefully placed objects” by introducing mobile performative sculptures.[9]

The Malady of Death (ongoing series)[edit]

Beginning in 2010 during her residency at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in the United States, Haegue Yang has staged a series of areadings of the French writer Marguerite Duras' 1982 novella The Malady of Death. Each reading has been in different languages - often local languages, with a different performer and with various visual outcomes. Yang's staging of The Malady of Death is characterised by an inconclusive uncertainty and the unknown, much like Duras' original text. The performative outcome of The Malady of Death is autonomous from the aesthetic of Yang's other work.[10]

In December 2015, as part of Mobile M+: Live Art, Yang presented The Malady of Death: Écrire et Lire, which consisted of a staging of The Malady of Death at Hong Kong's Sunbeam Theatre and the publication of the first Chinese translation. Held over two nights, the opening performance saw Hong Kong writer, Hon Lai-chu recite Duras' text, dressed in a long white dress upon an all but black stage. The staging included a burning mosquito coil, moving lights and intermittent bold background projections of the image of French actress Jeanne Balibar.[10]

To date, The Malady of Death has been performed at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2010); Namsan Arts Center, Seoul (2010); and dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, (2013); and most recently at Mobile M+: Live Art, Hong Kong (2015).[10]


Among the public collections holding work by Haegue Yang are the Bristol’s Museums, Galleries & Archives, Bristol; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Explum, Murcia; Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig; Kunsthalle Hamburg, Germany; Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea; Sammlung Haubrok, Berlin; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Westfälisches Landesmuseum, Münster; and the Zabludowicz Collection.


2005 Cremer Prize, Stiftung Sammlung Cremer, Münster, Germany[11]

2007 Bâloise Prize, Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany[12]

2018 Wolfgang-Hahn-Preis, Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst, Cologne, Germany


  1. ^ a b Podeschwa, Isabel 2002, "Manifesta4"
  2. ^ Yang, Haegue 2002 "Manifesta4"
  3. ^ a b c d Walker Art Center 2008
  4. ^ Schlaegel, Andreas, "Ten Questions: Haegue Yang", 2013
  5. ^ a b Chateigné, Yann, “Haegue Yang – Kunsthaus Bregenz” Frieze, Issue 139, 2011, p. 126.
  6. ^ Chong, Doryun, “Movement Studies” Parkett, Issue 89, 2011, pp. 66-73.
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ a b Studio Yang 2012, http://heikejung.de/AccomodatingEpicDispersion_Exhibition.html
  9. ^ a b Studio Yang 2013, http://heikejung.de/Bergen.html
  10. ^ a b c "A conversation with Haegue Yang". ocula.com. 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  11. ^ "Stiftung Sammlung Cremer - Kunstpreis".
  12. ^ "Collection Online".

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