Anicka Yi. Transform

Metamorphosis, resourcefulness and transformation. We could thus summarize the red thread of this exhibition that sees Anicka Yi the absolute protagonist of Hangar Bicocca in Milan.

Conceptual artist poised between chemistry and biology, Anicka Yi (Seoul, 1971), works mainly with installations that become the symbol of that synaesthetic art that belongs to our century.

Involving us through the senses, first of all the sense of smell, allows us to get in total contact with the work of art that no longer needs to be simply admired but wants to involve and make the viewer the absolute protagonist and absolved of everything he sees: the object exhibited is a mere representation of something that can be explained.

“Metaspora” is the title of the exhibition that combines languages ​​and themes from philosophy and biology, chemistry and science fiction through a path of twenty installations characterized by a human non-human hybrid that leaves the imagination with the possibility of deciphering their meaning. The multiform creations that animate the Hangar undermine the boundaries of the organic and synaesthetic by investigating the concept of symbiosis and metamorphosis in a continuous evolution of matter that generates different “forms” that allow the observation to change into the degenerating interpretation of the object. Disorientation and admiration envelop the works that seem to underline how much art can radically change the meaning of things. We are faced with display cases that contain microorganisms that proliferate inside them, mutate and decompose, changing their substance and appearance without the intervention of either the artist or others. Colonies of bacteria multiply and the fragrances they emit transform the static and admirable work of art into something real that belongs to us and shake off the burden of being something only observable.

Innovative and enterprising, Anicka Yi confronts us with a new way of understanding art through the old assembly technique that challenges the immutable aspect of sculpture and installation.

Biologizing the Machine (zoonotic spillover), 2021, one of the most emblematic installations on display, it is enclosed in large glass cases and was born from the collaboration with the Department of Environmental and Earth Sciences (DISAT) of the University of Milan- Bicocca. Testimony of the dialogue between art and science is essential to fully understand Anicka Yi’s path. The work changes and reacts to the surrounding environment, shaping the visitor experience. We are faced with a new way of understanding art that does not simply want to represent but to exist and challenge time by transforming itself and inviting us to reflect on this aspect. Going through cycles of growth, stasis and decay, the work contrasts rules and chaos and transforms by reacting to the surrounding environment: the organisms take on different colors that generate suspended paintings that change during the exhibition period. The invitation is not to be afraid of mutation, or at least try not to stiffen in the face of transformation.

Combining technology and biology, art and science, the artist reflects on how machines and artificial intelligence can be re-imagined, evolve and become independent of the human being by entering into communication with the surrounding world.

Flavia Annechini


Anicka Yi – Metaspore
24/02 – 24/02/2022
Curated by Fiammetta Griccioli and Vincente Todolí
Pirelli HangarBicocca
via Chiese 2, Milano

Anicka Yi, Fontenelle, 2015. Vinyl, steel pipes, motorcycle helmet, scent diffuser, glass, container, water, kombucha scoby leather, nylon string, worklight, cm 198.12 × 309.88 × 127. Installation view, The Kitchen, New York, 2015. Courtesy the artist, 47 Canal, New York and Gladstone Gallery, Brussels. Photo Jason Mandella

Anicka Yi, Shameplex, 2015. Plexiglass, nickel-plated straight pins, ultrasonic gel, LED strips, 7 boxes, cm 60.96 × 121.92 × 60.96 each. Installation view, Kunsthalle Basel, 2015. Courtesy the artist, Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels, and 47 Canal, New York. Photo Phillip Hänger/ Kunsthalle Basel

Anicka Yi, S.S.S, 2015. Brass, paint, rubber tubing, soap, string. Installation view, Kunsthalle Basel, 2015. Courtesy the artist, Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels, and 47 Canal, New York. Photo Philipp Hänger/Kunsthalle Basel


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