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Rachel Youn

☞ Tuesday, July 5, 2022, 12:06 ☜

The practice of American artist Rachel Youn finds its origins in the funny and imaginative nature of illustration and cartoons. Throughout the years, they developed a language made of kinetic installations. Youn creates machines that move like creatures with a life of their own and reflect deeply human qualities. 

In fact, the work of Rachel Youn arises from giving life to objects that missed their purpose. The artist thus primarily works with materials that hold a history of aspiration and failure through secondhand shopping. Made of rescued electric massagers and artificial plants, their sculptures appear absurd, witty, and erotic at times. 

Youn’s odd and sometimes clumsy moving sculptures accept the tension of life and its uncertainty. They deliver personal and collective feelings but with a hint of satire. Especially feelings in relation to sociopolitical aspects such as queerness or failed social standards, and a ‘cosmic loneliness’. Besides, those aspects root deeply in the artist’s biography. 

The objects that were once desired, but failed at some point to meet their expectations or functions, captivate Youn. Therefore over time Rachel Youn formed a strong sympathy for the donated, resold, or thrown away things. By rescuing those appliances and massagers from a doomed fate the artist grants them a certain freedom. However, the fact that they are no longer desired seems a little tragic at the same time. After all, those machines were meant to reproduce the sensations of warmth or human touch and care without ever stopping.

The artificial plants in Rachel Youn’s work present the idea of fresh-cut flowers or nature. Of course, deep down, we all know that they are fake and manufactured. And the artist knows that too, but deliberately chooses to change their original function and purpose. Once still and lifeless, factory-made stems and leaves now wildly spin, shake, and smack into each other as if they truly continue to live.

 

  

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Rachel Youn / Schemer (2022)
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