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JH

Spectacular Hye Rim Lee Animation

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Still from Hye Rim Lee, Black Rose, 2021, HD 3D animated video, 05:20 min Still from Hye Rim Lee, Black Rose, 2021, HD 3D animated video, 05:20 min Still from Hye Rim Lee, Black Rose, 2021, HD 3D animated video, 05:20 min Still from Hye Rim Lee, Black Rose, 2021, HD 3D animated video, 05:20 min

Toki's dress taste celebrates teasing men with a fetishist's love of shiny and smooth rubber over a caricaturing uber-feminine body, while also flaunting menacing symbols of castration such as spiky rose thorns, jagged crystal shards, and toadstool skirts with nether-part-slicing turbine blades. Female power, hetero male arousal and severing primal fear are deftly mixed.

In Scott Lawrie's stockroom show

Auckland

 

Hye Rim Lee
Black Rose video


7 May - 28 May 2022

South Korean artist, Hye Rim Lee, is well known in this country for her digital photographs of drawn flowers and cartoon characters— and her related 3D video animations—having lived regularly in Auckland, New York and Seoul for working and presenting new projects. Black Rose is a five minute video with rich colour and resonant hypnotic sound. It has been shown at Northart. You can see it again now on a monitor in Scott Lawrie‘s gallery.

In our culture a red rose stands for romantic love, so a black rose implies carnality, an earthy lustiness—except Lee’s project is playful, exuberant and cheeky. There is nothing gross about it. It has a sweetness almost approaching innocence. But not quite.

The video features the choreographed antics of a Tinkerbell flirty fairy character called Toki, a personality Lee has developed over many projects over the last twenty years. Her dress taste celebrates teasing men by exploiting a fetishist’s love of shiny and smooth rubber over a caricaturing uber-feminine body, while also flaunting menacing symbols of castration such as spiky rose thorns, jagged crystal shards, and toadstool skirts with nether-part-slicing turbine blades. Female power, hetero male arousal and severing primal fear are deftly mixed. There is much mischievous humour too.

In the background spinning flying saucers gradually turn into revolving metal wheels with angular cogs, or fat rings with knobby protuberances. The undersides of pulsing fungi morph into turning ‘turbines’ that transmute into voluminous dresses. One of these changes into an inverted ross that then becomes a spindly fairylike Toki wearing a long slinky garment.

In her pneumatic black rubber costume Toki becomes a prickly (but busty and shiny) stiletto-wearing princess who is eventually converted into a Black Rose Queen manifest in prismatic, ultra-reflective and brittle, razor-sharp crystal. Lee’s constantly slow-and-steady hip-grinding rhythmic musical soundtrack is perfectly synchronised with the bouncing (very sexual) throbbing forms. Even the bulbous toadstool stalks become like hanging male genitals. The music is not orgasmic in the sense of building up to a peak, but erotic in its slowly pulsing, unrelenting, driving persistence.

Horizontal lines of defecating rubber bunnies float across the sky like a row of carriages behind a locomotive, their arcs of cascading spherical poos soon replaced by horizontal balloons inflated by the wiggling and gyrating Toki. These double as glass-bead necklaces or lines of ben wa balls, passing in front of an opening rose /vagina, and whirling through cosmic space.

Halfway through the video, the orchestrated movement almost imperceptibly goes into reverse, with the turds ascending to the rabbits’ bums and the previously rising Toki /rose figure now descending. The end becomes the beginning again. It is quite an extraordinary sequence.

Mesmerising though this is, note that it is also worthwhile to experience the simpler black white and grey version of this video (see here), that is devoid of colour, transparency, complex reflections, quickly disappearing chromatic flares, and kaleidoscopic crystalline patterns. The moving undecorated forms are easier to follow and not so overwhelming or visually confusing.

The coloured, more complicated version on Vimeo (and on a large screen in Lawrie’s gallery) in comparison is more overtly emotional in its impact, with deep blacks, saturated purples, intense reds and greens. As with a great singer performing with a band or solo, both versions—whether black and white or coloured—though different in character and many layered, provide magnificent viewing experiences.

John Hurrell

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