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“Lee Bae - La Maison de la Lune Brûlée”, a Collateral Event of the 60th Venice Biennale, on View from April 20 at Wilmotte Foundation

Portrait of artist Lee Bae in front of the Daljip Teugi. Photo: Sangtae Kim ©Artist and Johyun Gallery

The Wilmotte Foundation will host from April 20 to November 24, 2024, the Collateral Event of the 60th International Art Exhibition – Venice Biennale entitled “Lee Bae – La Maison de la Lune Brûlée”.

Organized by the Hansol Foundation – Museum SAN, the Fondation d’Entreprise Wilmotte, with the support of Johyun Gallery, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Italy, the Korean Cultural Center in Italy, the Italian Embassy in Korea, the Italian Cultural Institute in Seoul, Perrotin, Esther Schipper, the City of Cheong do, and Fabriano. La Bella Carta dal 1264, the exhibition curated by Valentina Buzzi presents South Korean artist Lee Bae’s homage and exploration of a century-old ritual known as ‘Moonhouse Burning’ or ‘daljip taeugi’ deeply rooted in the land of morning calm. Held annually on the first full moon of the year, this ritual, which coincides with the 15th day of the lunar calendar’s first month, brings the entire community together to engage in a unique and symbolic celebration of cyclical cosmology.

The Collateral Event featuring Korean renowned artist Lee Bae serves as a captivating and participatory experience that seamlessly intertwines folklore knowledge and heritage with contemporary art. At its core, the exhibition delves into the profound connection between humans and the natural world, exploring themes of renewal, circularity, and the harmonious rhythms of nature, going beyond the nature/culture dichotomy of modern times to rethink our interconnectedness.

The two-part exhibition unfolds before, and during the Biennale Arte 2024, offering a rich narrative that engages both local and global communities. Before the opening, Lee Bae gathers messages from around the world, which are transcribed onto hanji paper, a traditional Korean paper. These messages, embodying wishes for the new year, become part of the Moonhouse Burning ritual taking place on February 24th in the city of Cheong-do, a ceremony recorded and later projected onto the walls that precede the exhibition hall in April 2024. The video-art piece, titled Burning (2024), is projected onto the walls of the entrance corridor of the Wilmotte Foundation that leads to the exhibition hall, through 7 projectors, and offers a first glimpse into the vocabulary of Lee Bae and the tradition of the Moonhouse Burning through both visual and sound.

Pungmulnori traditional Korean instrument play and dance. Photo: Sangtae Kim ©Artist and Johyun Gallery

Inside the exhibition hall, visitors encounter various Brushstroke installations (2024) unfolding on both the floor and the walls of the foundation, which are coated with white paper from Fabriano through a special technique called “marouflage”. The Brushstroke installations are painted using charcoal paint derived from the Moonhouse combustion. The exhibition space becomes a symbolic representation of hope emerging from collective aspirations, as well as a moment to experience what Asian philosophies recognize as the “negative space”: our and others essence are manifested through an absence that is complementary to the burning force of the video piece. The journey continues with a striking monolith carved from Zimbabwean black granite, serving as a focal point for meditation and reflection. This monumental sculpture which measures 4.6 meters in height and is titled Meok (2024), evokes the traditional Korean ink-stick, used historically in Korean academic and cultural circles as a way to transmit knowledge amongst generations. Lastly, the space is complemented by the work on canvas Issu du Feu (2024), where charcoal flakes are transformed into mosaics of contrasting highlights and opacities.

Exiting the exhibition hall, visitors traverse Moon (2024), an ephemeral structure whose path leads to the Venetian waters. Enveloped in paper through the marouflage technique, and illuminated by a ceiling in yellow glass panel, the path symbolizes renewal and connection, for the audience to feel and contemplate not only the Venetian Laguna, but also the moonlight that reconnects them with the atmosphere unfolding in Cheong-do during the burning ritual.

Daljip Teugi ritual in Cheongdo, South Korea, organised on occasion of the exhibition La Maison de La Lune Brûlée. Collateral event of the 60th Biennale di Venezia. Photo: Sangtae Kim ©Artist and Johyun Gallery

In an era marked by complexity and estrangement from nature, “La Maison de la Lune Brûlée” delivers a powerful message of reconnection with nature’s rhythms, celebrating lunar cosmologies and folklore traditions. The exhibition not only explores the timeless wisdom of Korean philosophy but also raises essential questions about the pivotal role of ancient traditions in contemporary times. Through the synthesis of art and ritual, Lee Bae’s exhibition invites visitors to embark a profound exploration of our shared humanity and the possibilities of re-discovery and hope.

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