You Are Not A Stranger

Lee Mingwei

Jill Snyder, Executive Director

March 15, 2019July 28, 2019

As the centerpiece of moCa’s 50th anniversary celebration suite of exhibitions the Museum will present a group of seminal works by famed Taiwanese artist Lee Mingwei. This exhibition continues a dialogue with the artist whose first solo exhibition in a US museum was presented at moCa twenty years ago. From March 15—July 28, 2019, this presentation, which includes, sculpture, photography, installation, and performance offers a series of unique and powerful interactive experiences with art. This exhibition includes four of the artist’s most well known and prominently exhibited works, Sonic Blossom (2013), The Moving Garden (2009), The Mending Project (2009), and photographic documentation of 100 Days of Lily (1995), which are all designed to enchant and inspire audiences, and cultivate giving, reciprocity, and connection.

Lee Mingwei (1964, Taiwan, lives and works in New York and Paris) is an internationally-acclaimed artist, renowned for his participatory mixed-media installations that explore how acts of generosity can nurture interaction and connection among individuals. Australia-based writer and curator Emily Wakeling reflects, Lee Mingwei “requires spectators to go beyond a passive visual reception and take the work deeper into their hearts and minds.”

Sonic Blossom (2013) is an interactive performance that imparts the gift of song to visitors. On designated days, a locally-trained soloist wearing an elaborate costume will select and sing one of Franz Schubert’s lieders (German poems set to music) to a museum guest who is seated in a specially-designed chair. For this participatory work, moCa is partnering with the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) to identify and work with student musicians to perform. moCa will host performances of Sonic Blossom in our Mueller Family Gallery for multiple weeks in April/May, and then present the work at the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA), in the CMA’s European painting galleries.

The Moving Garden (2009), like Sonic Blossom is a participatory artwork that features a 45-foot granite table with a central, meandering channel that holds 100 fresh flowers. Visitors are invited to take a flower, which they will give to a stranger upon leaving the Museum. The cycle restarts each day as the table is replenished with new flowers.

The Mending Project (2009), the third interactive and participatory installation in this presentation aims to create meaningful, tangible connections between strangers. The project invites community members to bring a garment or textile in need of repair to moCa. Here, visitors will encounter a volunteer mender seated at a long table before a wall ornamented with spools of colorful thread. Many of these threads are already connected to neatly folded and repaired garments on a nearby table. The visitor will present their garment and the mender will invite them to sit and talk while their garment is mended. The mended items will remain on the table, attached to its thread, until the show’s conclusion. The Mending Project encourages strangers to share in the gift of conversation.

The final work in this exhibition, the oldest on view also, 100 Days of Lily (1995) is a photographic portrait of a project in which Lee cultivated and raised a single lily from seed to death. Spending every moment with this flower until it died, Lee created the work to explore the life cycle in response to grieving his grandmother’s passing

Lee Mingwei’s work has gained wide recognition through solo shows at major institutions like The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts Boston; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland; Centre Pompidou Paris; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; and Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei. His work has been featured in biennials in Venice, Lyon, Liverpool, New York, and Sydney and Asia Pacific Triennials. Selected recent group exhibitions include: Language of Flowers, Asia University Museum of Modern Art,Taichung, Taiwan (2018); Common Threads: Weaving Stories Across Time, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA (2018); New Materialism, Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden (2018); Declaration, Institution for Contemporary Art, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA (2018); PEACE, Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, Germany (2017); Person of the Crowd, The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA (2017); Don't You Think It's Time For Love?, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow, Russia (2016); and Guest what?, The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan (2015).