New Museum Triennial: KANG SEUNG LEE

Photography Aubrey Mayer

What is your current state of mind? Unsettled.

What body of work would you like people to know more about? Since my work is project-based, I think any body of work can be a good entry.

What’s the last thing you binged? And how long did it take you? Fleabag, my third time watching it. Took only about three hours, I skip a lot.

Describe your work for the show in 3 words: Invisibility, potentiality, transformation.

Do you think that earth is safe? Nothing is safe.

What makes for a great group show? No oversized egos.

Studio necessity? Tums.

What artist dead or alive would you like to share a two-person show with? Paul Thek.

What’s your best art joke? Anything with “creative.”

Who or what was the last person or thing that made you cry? Almost every time I am on a plane I cry; perhaps it’s all the documentary films I watch.

What qualities make for a good art work? Art that reflects our multiple realities.

What is your most treasured possession? I traded a drawing of mine for Tseng Kwong Chi’s photograph. It happened through Muna Tseng, who is the caretaker of the estate. My drawing was based on Tseng Kwong Chi’s photo of him and Muna from the 1980s.

Most disturbing thing someone has said about your work? I am not disturbed by people’s comments too much. I am more bothered when someone asks me to explain my work A to Z.

The most flattering? “Can’t explain why, but I love your work.”

Do you like gossiping and if so about what? Yes, gossiping is how some of us speak out. The pandemic has put everything on hold though. I miss it.

Do you ever see parts of your childhood in your work? Definitely. I was hoarding all the time.

Are there topics that should be untouched by art? No.

Do artists have responsibilities? We do. I am writing these answers on a plane to New York from Los Angeles wearing a mask, sharing breaths with about a hundred people, thinking about our bodies, entanglements, anxiety, hopes for the future, how everything and everyone from the past, present and future are interconnected. Perhaps artists do feel more responsible as we are privileged to have this platform—making, showing and this interview—to express our thoughts.

In your mind, what is the state of art criticism? Marginal and hierarchical.

What show do you wish people talked more about this year? Alvin Baltrop at Hannah Hoffman, LA.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing what would it be? I am not sure if I want to come back at all. In fact, after death, I will still be here on earth in a different form. It’s called atmosphere. If I must come back, it would be as a coral! Do you know corals are animals?

If you could live with one work of art, what would that be? Why just one?
I want more! Candice Lin’s life-size sarcophagus, Gala Porras-Kim’s index drawing, and a rope work of Leonor Antunes…

What’s your biggest fear? Quitting. It takes great courage to do it.

What is one thing you do when no one else is around? It will remain a secret.

How would you like to die? Poof, vaporized!

Published: November 12, 2021

The fifth New Museum Triennial, “Soft Water Hard Stone,” was on view at the New Museum, 235 Bowery, through January 23, 2022.