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Young Sun Han: Dance of the Cockatrice


Tue 4 May 2010, 11:00am–6:00pm
Wed 5 May 2010, 11:00am–6:00pm
Thu 6 May 2010, 11:00am–6:00pm
Fri 7 May 2010, 11:00am–6:00pm
Sat 8 May 2010, 11:00am–3:00pm

Where: City Art Rooms, 28 Lorne St, CBD, Auckland

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

Listed by: Sanderson

Korean-American artist Young Sun Han presents a new body of work in photography and performance in his second solo exhibition at City Art Rooms.

Dance of the Cockatrice is the title of a set of photographs depicting the artist’s nude body painted in vibrant camouflage patterns to match an appropriated mural based on a screen print by Andy Warhol. Each photograph captures the artist in dramatic poses. The sequence of movements causes his painted skin to stretch and tear, revealing more flesh as the series progresses.

The use of camouflage and a mask, covering most of Han’s face, may refer to strategies in which individuals adapt their identity and personalities to blend into society. While represented as a physical alteration in the photographs, this chameleon-like quality also symbolises a cultural and behavioural adjustment individuals undergo.

Referencing Warhol indicates the artist’s interest in the tension between voyeurism and exhibitionism. Warhol’s subjects were held under clinical scrutiny in video and photographic works that challenged issues of privacy and exposure. As in Warhol’s subjects, Han’s gaze into the lens is self-assured and confronts the viewer like a seductive advertisement.

The camouflage both conceals and reveals Han’s body in different moments, and the dance appears to be an open invitation and ambivalent strip tease. The subject is delicately aware of the viewer and invites such glances. In this instance, the artist implies that the act of voyeurism comes at a cost – a cockatrice, referenced in the title, is a mythological half-rooster half-reptile that possesses the power to turn people into stone with its glare.

A live performance in the gallery will recreate the photographs on opening night. Audience members will be entangled with the artist’s gaze as he stalks around the City Art Rooms space, his armour of paint peeling away with each step.

“The ‘dance’ is inspired by the act of cruising, which is a kind of eye tug-of-war when encountering strangers. It’s a simultaneous display of desire and power play, which reminds me of my experiences of looking at art and sexy consumer goods,” says Han.

Young Sun Han (b. 1982, USA) has been a NZ resident since 2008 and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and also studied at Goldsmiths College, London. His recent performances include Sliding Mirror at the 4A Centre of Cont. Art, Sydney, and 24 Hour Embrace at the Swimming Pool Project Space, Chicago. He has also exhibited in the Suter Gallery, Nelson and the New Dowse, Lower Hutt. He was a finalist in the Trust Waikato National Contemporary Art Awards in 2008.

Dance of the Cockatrice opens 6pm Tuesday 13 April.
The exhibition runs from 6 April – 8 May.

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