Sinae Yoo at The Gallery Apart, Rome

Sinae Yoo, The Dead by Many Firsts, (video still), 2016
Courtesy The Gallery Apart, Rome and the artist


The Gallery Apart in Rome will present Shadow rift, Sinae Yoo’s first exhibition at the gallery, curated by Domenico de Chirico.

Vivid free interpretation of situations, objects, figures and a complex sign language in pop culture and extended cultural exchanges as they move through historical motifs and compositions, posing notions of an expressive self, this is the general starting point for the artistic work of Korean artist Sinae Yoo. Currently living in Switzerland, for her first solo exhibition in Italy at The Gallery Apart in Rome, she has produced a large new work series, including: a video accompanied by the soundtrack, installations, drawings and ceramics.
In ‘Shadow rift’, Sinae Yoo seeks to deconstruct the privileged sense of the Western theoria: the sight. Seeing does not mean exclusively seeing, as each gaze needs a concealment. This typically Deriddan practice implies that the reflection upon the sight, upon the vision, upon the gaze and the eye, intertwines inextricably with the touch: «If two gazes look into each other’s eyes, can we say that in that right moment they are touching each other?».
Vision and touch, distance and proximity interlace like a chiasm and the con-tact of the eyes is given as a condition, so that the look and the encounter with the other occur contemporaneously. The essence of this discourse is unquestionably ethical: Sinae Yoo investigates the mode of being and the ability to deal with the other. Such ocular theory results, so to speak, in a technological impasse: the vision becomes tact and the sight becomes contact. Therefore, the relationship with the other deconstructs the movement between proximity and distance, their presumed duality and their nitid separation. In the extreme vicinity the eye cannot see anymore, points and touches like a finger and so ultimately, its function becomes digital, no longer optic but haptic (i.e., tactile object recognition). The aim is to highlight a new relationship, built and realized through the sight and by opening the eyes to the world. To quote the French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, « we have to touch without touching, that is to know how to touch without touching, without touching too much ».
Within the exhibition, rich in synaesthesia, the reflection on the look becomes also a question of identity which takes concrete form integrating with the distances typical of the spectral, immaterial and pharmaceutical cyberspace: here it is possible to kiss from a distance.
‘Shadow rift’ welcomes the visitors with a doormat typical of South Korea, which is usually placed outside or inside the doorway of a house or a building in order to allow people to clean the sole of footwear before entering a place. The invitation to perform a ritualistic gesture, a ceremonial custom, serves as the introduction to an exhibition that collects every aspect of a private world. Once inside, the visitor is overwhelmed by a protective atmosphere where a series of messages, symbols and objects universally recognizable are kept. To welcome the visitor there is a mobile shield, symbolically representing an immune subject, visual result of the achievement of a possible stage of digital cleaning and personal privacy. The prevailing blue colour of the installation is a sample of the distinctive blue pot of the Nivea creme. The well-known ‘snow-white’ crème, having special functions that allowed to keep the skin as white as alabaster, obtained a sudden success as it could also be stored for a long period of time. In the work of Sinae Yoo, the cosmetic product acquired a metaphorical relevance since it is acknowledged in unison as one of the oldest product of the German mass product, although it dates back to the Nazi regime, when it was defined as the ‘Jewish crème’ because the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Beiersdorf, where the lotion was produced, was Jewish. For some evident historical references, it is possible to start an antithetical reflection between antigen and antibody, internal and external, friends and foes, I and the other, pure and impure, negativity and positivity. A collection of sushi-boxes, featuring ‘embryonic’ creatures made of ceramic , clearly unravels the issue of packaged food, through the use of perfect and eye-catching incubators, in order to reassure the consumers: it is a formal statement against the question of the aesthetic similarity of commercial mass products. On the other hand, the drawings aim at investigating the relationship, generally problematic, between the social and biological sphere. A further installation consists of a series of columns containing surveillance cameras, covered with a semi-transparent fabric, aimed at highlighting the impossibility of clarity in interpersonal relationships. Indeed, according to a totally Freudian vision, human existence is not limpid even to itself and such lacuna has an effect also on the relationship with the other. On the lower floor of the gallery, decorated with Nivea crème tins, there is the video ‘The Dead by Many Firsts’ (2016), accompanied by a soundtrack purposely composed for the video, where a blind girl swims in bluescreen-like water: it is the ghost of the ghost who lives in a status of deification of his own mental hygiene and who tries narcissistically to boost, with regard to healthiness, the image that the others can have of himself, through the use of an adaptable mimic and of protective models of the screen lock. Moreover, the video seeks to explore the concept of cyber-hygiene, in the 21st century, along with its multiple meanings not of immediate understanding. In this respect, indeed, quoting the British journalist Ben Hammersley: «The most important life skill we’ll be teaching our children over the coming decades will be cyber-hygiene. Fighting infections in the 21st century is less about washing your hands and more about not clicking on untrusted email attachments. Those of us who don’t understand this will be shunned as digitally unclean».

During the opening, the exhibition will feature a live act by the young German performer and choreographer Nils Amadeus Lange. He will make a one to one performance exploring different forms of intimacy & hygiene with Nivea cream based on Sinae Yoo’s video ‘The Dead by Many Firsts’ (2016).

The Gallery Apart – Via Francesco Negri, 43, Rome, Italy
Opening 13 December 2016
13 December 2016 – 11 January 2017