We leave traces, day in day out, everywhere we go, invisible or conspicuous, coincidentally subconscious or with full intent: as we walk we leave footprints on the ground behind us, when we cross borders we leave fingerprints behind confirming our identity; we do so every time we depart from one place in search of another. Or as French poet Jean Tardieu aptly put it: “I say there is endless motion in this world, and everything that moves leaves visible traces; a pattern, a reflex, a colour.” The material itself leaves a mark; whether as sediment or eroded through abrasion it simultaneously hints at its previous form, providing proof of a bygone existence, a past collision of two objects.
ARNDT Berlin is hosting Jeewi Lee’s first solo exhibition “Sediment”. Here the UdK (Berlin University of the Arts) graduate and participant of last year’s group exhibition “Berlin Masters” will be showcasing a variety of works, including a location specific installation (Weisse Erde, 2015) where Lee conserves the gallery’s ‘White Cube’ with filtered sea-salt from her home. Alongside water, this ‘white gold’ is an ionic chemical compound essential to human existence. Salt is a leftover, a remnant of sun and sea. It spreads tangibly across the walls and floor of the gallery space and lures our attention to its crystalline surface structure and its ever-changing, light-dependent colouration.
Jeewi Lee originally studied painting and her work today is characterised by a fascination with the ground, the terrain we traverse in our time on earth. ‘Ground’ less in the sense of soil and geologically relevant rocks, but rather as a representation of individual cultures and their habits either in the public realm or in a private refuge – or on the threshold between the two. Every commute to a previous exhibition, every artist and every visitor passing through has left a mark on the segment of wooden floor Lee has singled out. She captures the traces on her studio floor (Fundament, 2014) and exhibition space (Ich_No_Gramm, 2015) to create a portrait of a specific moment or publicly experienced event.
Lee’s focus elevates the overlooked and partially unintended residues of everyday life. Though these images may be reminiscent of abstracts by certain painters, they are in fact the genuine result of unpredictable external processes that Jeewi Lee can’t entirely foresee; Lee merely either selects them or initiates the course of events leading to the image. Hence Lee’s work doesn’t claim to reflect a reality beyond the canvas, but rather it shows the development of its creation and its past.