Boxing Clever

Beijing Architect Naihan Li Deconstructs Her Shapeshifting Furniture

Reappropriating blonde wooden boxes, Naihan Li forms The Crates, a collection of modish, foldable furniture. Inspired by her own transient lifestyle, and by the millions of workers who migrate around China each year, Li’s outwardly simple containers fold open to reveal hidden wardrobes, bookshelves, beds and dressers. She questions the concept of dwelling while accommodating the requirements of a modern, mobile world. “All my creations are designed to improve the life I’m living right now,” says Li. “To do that you need to understand what life is about. It’s a process.”  Based in Caochangdi, an artist village that counts Ai Weiwei and curator Beatrice Leanza as tenants, Li is a Beijing local, but attended the Bartlett School of Architecture in London. All these diverse influences have come to inform her work––which she describes as being the meeting point of art, design and architecture––and this range has allowed her to participate in a slew of prestigious projects, from designing the Royal Kitchen restaurant inside Beijing’s Forbidden City to exhibiting at Milan Design Week in both 2010 and 2011. Her next series, I Am a Monument, rescales well-known structures down to the size of domestic furniture, turning the Pentagon into a bed and the Palm House at Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden into a terrarium. Li recounts visiting Chinese art collectors’ houses and finding them full of gargantuan sculptures. For her, the impulse to possess a colossal object—in this case, a building—is “very Chinese.” Li however, doesn’t subscribe to the ‘bigger is better’ mantra. Of her molded candles shaped like tall buildings that form a part of the series, she remarks: “It’s intriguing to see them burn.”

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  • ON REPLAY
    ON REPLAY

    The Renaissance of Hahn-Bin

    The Kaleidoscopic Classical Star Returns From the Dead in His Latest Opus

    Filmmaker Alison Chernick ushers us into the colorful universe of 23-year-old violin virtuoso Hahn-Bin. The Korean prodigy has been resuscitating a dozing classic music scene and capturing the imagination of new generations of young people with his technical brilliance and provocative visual performances. Till Dawn Sunday is a “hybrid music theater work where a gender-defying storyline meets a genre-defying musical kaleidoscope,” explains the musician of his latest theatrical opus, a myth of resurrection from metaphorical death through the power of music, showing in New York and London. The youngest person to be accepted to Korea’s University of the Arts at age 9, Hahn-Bin brought the crowd to their feet with his US debut at The Grammy’s a mere three years later. Under the tutelage of the legendary Itzhak Perlman, the self-proclaimed “strange fruit” learned to channel the emotion of his personal experiences into the complex compositions, choreography and stage production of his recent multi-faceted works. Hahn-Bin's magpie references have been plucked from fellow creative polymaths Laurie Anderson, Andy Warhol and David Bowie, and are nimbly interwoven with Bach, Saraste and Tchaikovsky to form his own brand of avant-pop classical. “It was the first time I interviewed someone dead—who was also neither male nor female,” remarked Chernick. “His music comes from a deep dark place inside himself and you can feel it.”

    (Read More)
  • MOST SHARED IN ART
    MOST SHARED IN ART

    Todd Selby x Christine Sun Kim

    The Selby Profiles Deaf Performance Artist Sun Kim's Sonic Experiments

    Cult photographer and filmmaker Todd Selby's latest short is a revealing portrait of performance artist Christine Sun Kim. Deaf from birth, Kim turned to using sound as a medium during an artist residency in Berlin in 2008, and has since developed a practice of lo-fi experimentation that aims to re-appropriate sound by translating it into movement and vision. "It's a lot more interesting to explore a medium that I don't have direct access to and yet has the most direct connection to society at large," says the artist. "Social norms surrounding sound are so deeply ingrained that, in a sense, our identities cannot be complete without it." Selby filmed an exclusive performance from Kim in a Brooklyn studio as the artist played with field recordings of the street sounds of her Chinatown neighborhood, feedback and helium balloons, and made “seismic calligraphy” drawings from ink- and powder-drenched quills, nails and cogs dancing across paper to the vibrations of subwoofers beneath. Working with sound designer Arrow Kleeman, Selby carefully choreographed the film's ambient score to reveal the Orange County native's unique relationship with sound. "Her work deals with reclaiming sound because it's a foreign world to her and one she's not comfortable in," explains Selby. "I wanted the film to act as an artistic conduit for her to tell her story to the world.”

    To read an interview with Christine Sun Kim visit our Facebook page here.

    (Read More)

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