Archive: Lee Bul
This shiny & giant metal Zeppelin invades museums

This shiny & giant metal Zeppelin invades museums

Lee Bul - Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, installation view of Crashing” at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, 2018, photo Linda Nylind
Lee Bul – Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Heavy-duty fabric, metalized film, transparent film, polyurethane ink, fog machine, LED lighting, electronic wiring, dimensions variable, installation view of Crashing at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, 2018
Photo: Linda Nylind

Intro

Lee Bul’s installation that saw the transformation of the Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery took place in 2018 between May and August. Occupying the entire Hayward Gallery, this exhibition was the artist’s first ever solo show in London. In it, more than 118 other pieces created from the late 1980s to now were also showcased. However, it is the Zeppelin piece that had audiences completely enamored and fascinated during the show.

From the late 1980s to now, this pioneering Korean artist has been instrumental in generating a wide array of artworks, which draw on a mix of references. The Zeppelin, in particular, was designed to transport visitors in attendance to another place and time with the hope of exploring the aspirations of a contemporary society and the resulting failures within it.

About Willing to be Vulnerable

Bul’s work Willing To Be Vulnerable (2015-16) was represented by a massive foil Hindenburg Zeppelin. With this piece, the artist continued her investigation of utopian ideas and their effect on history and society. If you can recall your history, the Zeppelin was an airship that was pioneered and named after the then German Count known as Ferdinand von Zeppelin1.

At the start of the 20th century, these futuristic airships represented modernity and progress but their popularity came to an end after a Zeppelin carrying 96 passengers went up in flames2 while attempting to land. As such, Bul created the piece to draw attention to the different ways that technology can harm people even when the same technology is developed with the best of intentions.

As she did with the other 117 pieces, Bul took advantage of the distinctive design of the gallery and used it as a collaborator rather than just using it as a mere backdrop. The 17-meter-long Zeppelin structure was docked inside the upper galleries of the Haywards and was installed to hover above the gallery’s reflective floors.

Conclusion

Bul has been created thought-provoking artwork since the 1980s. Her work often revisits past experiences in her own life and in history with the hopes of imagining what the future would look like had the events not occurred. Born in South Korea during president Park Chung-hee’s3 dictatorship, Bul saw the rapid modernization that occurred in Korea during the 1960s and 1970s.

Often times, the projects that were undertaken during this period were often left half-finished and the individuals working on them often suffered as a result. As a consequence, her artwork is often strongly related to her upbringing and her childhood, which explains why her work is also so strongly linked to the modern.

“Crashing” exhibition at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London

Lee Bul - Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, installation view of Crashing” at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, 2018, photo Xinhua:Ray Tang
Lee Bul – Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Heavy-duty fabric, metalized film, transparent film, polyurethane ink, fog machine, LED lighting, electronic wiring, dimensions variable, installation view of Crashing at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, 2018
Photo: Xinhua/Ray Tang

Lee Bul - Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, installation view of Crashing” at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, 2018
Lee Bul – Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Heavy-duty fabric, metalized film, transparent film, polyurethane ink, fog machine, LED lighting, electronic wiring, dimensions variable, installation view of Crashing at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, 2018

Lee Bul - Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, installation view of Crashing” at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, 2018, photo Maxie Fischer
Lee Bul – Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Heavy-duty fabric, metalized film, transparent film, polyurethane ink, fog machine, LED lighting, electronic wiring, dimensions variable, installation view of Crashing at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, 2018
Photo: Maxie Fischer

“Crash” exhibition the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin

Lee Bul - Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, 2018, photo alliance:dpa
Lee Bul – Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Heavy-duty fabric, metalized film, transparent film, polyurethane ink, fog machine, LED lighting, electronic wiring, dimensions variable, installation view of Crash at Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, 2018
Photo: Photo alliance/dpa

Lee Bul - Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, 2018
Lee Bul – Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Heavy-duty fabric, metalized film, transparent film, polyurethane ink, fog machine, LED lighting, electronic wiring, dimensions variable, installation view of Crash at Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, 2018

The Zeppelin at the Biennale of Sydney

Lee Bul - Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Cockatoo Island, Sydney, Australia, photo Ben Symons:Biennale of Sydney)
Lee Bul – Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Heavy-duty fabric, metalized film, transparent film, polyurethane ink, fog machine, LED lighting, electronic wiring, dimensions variable, installation view on Cockatoo Island at 20th Biennale of Sydney, 2016
Photo: Ben Symons/Biennale of Sydney

Lee Bul - Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Cockatoo Island, Sydney, Australia
Lee Bul – Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Heavy-duty fabric, metalized film, transparent film, polyurethane ink, fog machine, LED lighting, electronic wiring, dimensions variable, installation view on Cockatoo Island at 20th Biennale of Sydney, 2016

Lee Bul - Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Cockatoo Island, Sydney, Australia, photo Algirdas Bakas
Lee Bul – Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Heavy-duty fabric, metalized film, transparent film, polyurethane ink, fog machine, LED lighting, electronic wiring, dimensions variable, installation view on Cockatoo Island at 20th Biennale of Sydney, 2016
Photo: Algirdas Bakas

Video of Willing To Be Vulnerable at the 20th Biennale of Sydney, 2016

Video interview with Lee Bul

Related readings


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