View artist Anika Yee’s Deep Fry Flowers as part of her multi-sensory biopolitical practice
As part of a collaboration with Art21, hear from industry news artists describe their inspiration in their own words.
Visitors to Anika Yee’s installations often find themselves relying on senses they are not accustomed to using in the more visually focused world of art: smell, touch, or taste. Her works draw on sometimes ephemeral yet profoundly evocative elements, which evoke memories and associations, to examine “the biopolitics of our senses,” according to the artist.
“I grew up in a very pungent household, and I was very aware of how smell begins to create these forms of identity around invisible scent molecules,” Yi explained in an exclusive interview filmed as part of Art21’s Bodies of Knowledge series. . “In the Western world, we really tend to dismiss very strong smells as a sign of weakness, as a sign of being more animalistic. We have left those smells behind in a completely sterile world where we control what we can and cannot smell, an impossible approach to existence.
Yi sees this drive to purify the world as rooted in a very human fear of being erased from existence. “We are going against nature to try to maintain, stabilize and control something that resists all of that.”
Around 2010, Yi began deep frying flowers and plants as a way to explore this fear of destruction. She would dip the plants in a thick mixture that masked the flowers’ original shape and scent, then drop them into boiling oil at 300 degrees, transforming them into an entirely new being. “The visual aspects of it were definitely something I was aiming for, but the smell of french fries, like them, was very inviting,” Yee said. Lee, you know, fry a bunch of these“.
A similar fear often follows society’s increasing reliance on technology and machines, from factory automation to artificial intelligence. “We have a very limited imagination when it comes to machines. “We have a lot of anxiety that they will replace us,” Yee said. “But what if we could communicate with them in a more optimistic way?” This question prompted the artist to create a series of “air” sculptures inspired by jellyfish, which will take over Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2021-2022.
“The machines respond and detect each other through high-frequency radio waves. They are able to detect the heat signatures of visitors,” Ye said of the works. “Some exercisers are curious about visitors, while others are more shy. It was very important to me that they be unpredictable, and that they have the space and time for their own development. You know it’s mechanical, yet it feels distinctly alive.
Watch the video that originally appeared as part of the Art21 series bodies of knowledge, less.
This is part of ‘Art on Video’, a collaboration between Artnet News and Art21 that brings you clips from artists making the news. A new season of the flagship series of the non-profit organization Art21 Art in the twenty-first century Available now on PBS. Catch all episodes of other series, such as New York up close And Extended gameAnd learn about the organization’s educational programs Art21.org.
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