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Yutie Lee 

18.10. - 09.12.19

Curated by
Eva Hess, Klara Hülskamp, Junia Thiede and Lea Steinkampf 

If language is not understood, its inscribed meaning remains hidden. The trinity of spoken word, character and symbolic gesture empties itself in a matter of seconds. What remains is the mere form, a sound, an assumption. With this ultimate realization, Yutie Lee's artistic practice sends us back to the origin of language, to its primary function of definition and attribution, but also to its fundamental dualistic system of participation and exclusion.

In the 12th century, the abbess, mystic and composer Hildegard von Bingen developed the Lingua Ignota, a secret form of communication in writing and language. With the help of 23 letters Hildegard von Bingen formed a vocabulary of about 1000 terms, some of which have morphological and phonetic similarities to German, Latin, Ancient Greek and Hebrew. The Lingua Ignota is regarded as one of the first constructed languages, but its intended purpose remains largely unknown.

Yutie Lee picks up this archetypal form of coding again with the font HvB she developed. Extended by ten stylistically modified Chinese numbers, she assembles the alphabet of the medieval secret language into her own typography and makes it available as artistic material. The processing and superimposition of cultural products from East Asian and European traditions is an elementary component of her practice. Source material from literature, popular culture, history, and one's own biography is linked to form alternative narratives; attributions are cancelled, and the dominant narratives are turned upside down. Language is treated according to the principle of emergence - encoding - forwarding.

Taken from the exhibition title Subject:Fwd:Unknown, Yutie Lee has based her works in fffriedrich on the sequence of letters f o r. As a reaction to the preceding impulses, space and the exhibition series interweave with linguistic levels of meaning and excerpts from her own practice to form a multi-layered code. In the video work >>4<<<, an ASCII structure consisting of special characters and the letter f flickers across the projection screen as a typeface. The graphic composition refers schematically to an earlier video work dealing with the silent film Ecstasy (1933) and the protagonist Hedy Lamarr. Primarily known as an actress, Hedy Lamarr developed an encrypted radio remote control while in the service of the US Navy, which is considered the predecessor of today's Bluetooth and WLAN technology. In >>4<<, the ASCII typeface is superimposed by the oversized HvB letters f, o and r, which float sluggishly over the surface. The supposedly cryptic symbols dissolve into an annoying noise.

Immersed in pink light, the three ceramics fortune, foreign and forward push themselves into the scene. Deprived of their essential function, they are only reminiscent of traditional Chinese vases in form and painting. But this assumption is deceptive.

In fact, fired and glazed in the Westerwald according to old craftsmanship, letters of the Font HvB lie on the surface here as well, depriving the objects of any attribution of material qualities and tradition.

Photography © Eike Walkenhorst