Hopping for Hope: Ahreum Lee
The New Gallery (TNG), Calgary, AB -
THE NEW GALLERY, Calgary AB - To Feb 22
by Michael Turner
Currently based in Montreal, Ahreum Lee is a South Korean–born interdisciplinary media artist who came to prominence first as co-founder and frontwoman of the experimental art-rock band Juck Juck Grunzie before expanding her practice to include video and multimedia installation. A 2019 finalist for the EQ Bank and Trinity Square Video–sponsored Emerging Digital Artists Award, she has exhibited and performed at the Darling Foundry, Studio XX and the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery as well as Third Shift festival and Axis Lab.
In Hopping for Hope, Lee presents works that are, in her words, “an exercise in how I navigate myself towards a global identity as an immigrant, artist, and as a human being.” Through the use of gaming, Lee has focused her attention on Google’s global mapping methodology, specifically how digital technology and the internet contribute to the “disorientation of the diasporic experience.” On the topic of Google’s self-conception as a politically neutral tool, Lee maintains that “the depiction of regional borders shifts to refl ect the political reality of where Google Maps is being accessed from.”
A notable video work in the exhibition plays o the arcade game Dance Dance Revolution. According to the gallery website: “It combines footage of the East Asian pseudoscience Cheok Ji Beob, ‘the way to make the world smaller,’ with screen captures from Street View. Those that immerse themselves in Cheok Ji Beob believe that through ritual practice and movement, they can fold space and time to ‘jump’ instantaneously from one place in the world to another.”
For Lee, this jump comes with questions: “Do my thoughts travel with me, or belong to where I am?”